Ichthyological Research

, Volume 61, Issue 4, pp 305–316 | Cite as

Effect of waterfalls on fluvial fish distribution and landlocked Rhinogobius brunneus populations on Yakushima Island, Japan

  • Yuichi KanoEmail author
  • Midori Iida
  • Kenshi Tetsuka
  • Toshihiro Saitoh
  • Fumihiro Kato
  • Tatsuro Sato
  • Shin Nishida
Full Paper


The distribution of fluvial fish was surveyed at 55 sites on Yakushima Island, Japan, which has precipitous mountains and waterfalls (below- or no-waterfall sites: 31; above-waterfall sites: 24). Eleven diadromous and one river resident (introduced Oncorhynchus masou masou) species were found, but absolutely no fish were detected at the 18 above-waterfall sites. Statistical analyses revealed that the presence of waterfalls (> 5 m in height) below the sites had a significant negative effect on fish distribution, suggesting that waterfalls prevent migration of diadromous fishes. We found Rhinogobius brunneus populations above high waterfalls such as Nunobiki Falls (50 m) and Ohko Falls (88 m). Otolith Sr:Ca ratios and mitochondrial DNA (cyt-b region) were examined to determine the migratory history and genetic properties of these populations; the Sr:Ca ratios indicated that the populations had a landlocked life cycle, whereas the genetic endemism/isolation of landlocked populations was unexpectedly absent. There is no clear explanation for this phenomenon, but fairly infrequent individuals of nonlandlocked type might have migrated beyond the waterfalls with their sucker-like organ and mated with landlocked populations, disrupting the genetic isolation of landlocked populations.


Biogeographic barrier Fish migration Mitochondrial DNA Otolith Sr:Ca ratios Rhinogobius sp. DA 



We are grateful for the assistance provided by M. Oya, and K. Tsukamoto. The authors would like to thank Enago ( for the English language review. This study was supported by the Global COE Program (Center of Excellence for Asian Conservation Ecology), MEXT, Japan. This study was partly supported by the Cooperative Program of Atmosphere and Ocean Research Institute, the University of Tokyo. M. Iida was partly supported by Research Fellowships of the Japan Society for the Promotion of Science (JSPS).


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Copyright information

© The Ichthyological Society of Japan 2014

Authors and Affiliations

  • Yuichi Kano
    • 1
    Email author
  • Midori Iida
    • 2
  • Kenshi Tetsuka
    • 3
  • Toshihiro Saitoh
    • 3
  • Fumihiro Kato
    • 4
  • Tatsuro Sato
    • 5
  • Shin Nishida
    • 6
  1. 1.Centre for Asian Conservation EcologyKyushu UniversityFukuokaJapan
  2. 2.Department of Chemistry, Biology and Marine Science, Faculty of ScienceUniversity of the RyukyusNishiharaJapan
  3. 3.Yakushima Biodiversity Conserving ConferenceYakushimaJapan
  4. 4.Amakusa Marine Biological LaboratoryKyushu UniversityKumamotoJapan
  5. 5.Department of Urban and Environmental EngineeringGraduate School of Kyushu UniversityFukuokaJapan
  6. 6.Faculty of Education and CultureUniversity of MiyazakiMiyazakiJapan

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