Environmental Biology of Fishes

, Volume 82, Issue 4, pp 387–399 | Cite as

Seasonal and interannual variation of subtidal fish assemblages in Wakasa Bay with reference to the warming trend in the Sea of Japan

  • Reiji MasudaEmail author


A bi-monthly underwater visual census was conducted in the subtidal habitat of Nagahama, Wakasa Bay, Sea of Japan, over 5 years from January 2002 to December 2006. A total of 83 fish species and 63,328 individuals were recorded over 120 1-h visual censuses composed of three 2 × 200 m transects. The number of both total individuals (abundance) and species (richness) were strongly correlated with the bottom-water temperature. Species richness was greatest in summer (July–September), with 10–20 species per 400 m2, when the sea-bottom temperature was highest (24–28°C), and lowest in winter (January–March), with 1–8 species per 400 m2, when the temperature was lowest (10–12°C). Five species, i.e., rockfish, Sebastes inermis, wrasse, Pseudolabrus sieboldi, two species of goby, Acentrogobius pflaumii and Tridentiger trigonocephalus, and pygmy filefish, Rudarius ercodes, were frequently observed and present in more than 200 of the total of 360 total transects. While the presence of most fish species was dependent on water temperature, some species were independent of water temperature, including anchovy, Engraulis japonicus, S. inermis, wasp fish, Hypodytes rubripinnis, A. pflaumii and pufferfish, Takifugu poecilonotus. Jack mackerel, Trachurus japonicus, was the most abundant fish, being most typically seen from spring through autumn, with a total of 21,850 individuals observed over the whole census period. Some species showed strong annual fluctuations in abundance. The interannual stability in fish abundance and species richness was probably because the fish assemblage was composed of a sufficiently large number of species, but with the number of each species fluctuating over time. A comparison of the present survey to one in 1970–72 revealed that over the last 30 years southern fish species have significantly increased whereas those indigenous to northern waters have decreased.


Community ecology Fish assemblage Global warming Species composition Subtidal fish fauna Underwater visual census 



I thank Captain K. Sato for providing the daily observation data of surface water temperature and salinity, and Y. Fukunishi, K. Matsuda and S. Nakatsuma for providing data on fish collection by angling and trap. Comments by Megan Fencil (Univ. of Texas), Yoshiaki Kai (MFRS), Mutsumi Nishida (ORI, Univ. of Tokyo), and two anonymous reviewers substantially improved the manuscript.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2007

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Maizuru Fisheries Research StationKyoto UniversityKyotoJapan

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