Ichthyological Research

, Volume 58, Issue 3, pp 202–208 | Cite as

Habitat factors affecting the distribution and abundance of the spinous loach Cobitis shikokuensis in southwestern Japan

  • Ryota KawanishiEmail author
  • Mikio Inoue
  • Motohiro Takagi
  • Yo Miyake
  • Takaaki Shimizu
Full Paper


We examined habitat factors related to the distribution and abundance of the spinous loach Cobitis shikokuensis, an endangered benthic fish, in the Shigenobu River system, southwestern Japan. In the study river, the spinous loach was distributed widely along the main stem, from headwater to near the mouth, whereas it was rarely found in tributary streams. Classification tree analysis showed that the presence/absence of spinous loach was explained by a combination of percent pebble and length of river fragment between artificial barriers. Spinous loach incidence was high in sites with abundant pebble (>27.7%), but low in sites with short river fragment (≤0.97 km) even if pebbles were abundant. A regression tree model for loach density retained only percent pebble as a single best predictor, with sites with higher percent pebble (>40.4%) having higher density. These results suggest that substrate condition is an important factor determining the distribution and abundance of spinous loach and also that habitat fragmentation by artificial barriers has great potential to threaten the spinous loach population in this river. Considering the highly fragmented situation of the study river and prevention of upstream migration by barriers, we conclude that maintenance of suitable habitats in upper reaches has high priority for conservation of the spinous loach.


Cobitidae Endangered species Substrate Habitat fragmentation 



We thank Y. Kudo, Y. Sumizaki, and S. Kikuchi for their field assistance, and K. Omori, A. Sogabe, and H. Hamaoka for advice and discussion during the study. Constructive comments from an editor and two reviewers improved the manuscript. This study was funded by the Foundation of River and Watershed Environment Management Japan. The survey in this study was conducted with the permission of the Ehime Prefectural Government and complied with the current laws of Japan.


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Copyright information

© The Ichthyological Society of Japan 2011

Authors and Affiliations

  • Ryota Kawanishi
    • 1
    Email author
  • Mikio Inoue
    • 1
  • Motohiro Takagi
    • 2
    • 5
  • Yo Miyake
    • 3
  • Takaaki Shimizu
    • 4
  1. 1.Graduate School of Science and EngineeringEhime UniversityMatsuyamaJapan
  2. 2.Faculty of AgricultureEhime UniversityMatsuyamaJapan
  3. 3.Graduate School of Science and EngineeringEhime UniversityMatsuyamaJapan
  4. 4.Research Institute of Cultivation Resources Fisheries Research Center, Ehime Research Institute of Agriculture, Forestry and FisheriesIyoJapan
  5. 5.South Ehime Fisheries Research CenterEhime UniversityMatsuyamaJapan

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