Ecological Research

, Volume 32, Issue 6, pp 899–908 | Cite as

Small-clawed otters (Aonyx cinereus) in Indonesian rice fields: latrine site characteristics and visitation frequency

  • Aadrean
  • Nisikawa Usio
Original Article


Latrine sites, or areas where otters scent-mark and deposit feces, are a habitat feature that serve an important role in communication for many otter species. The small-clawed otter (Aonyx cinereus) inhabits both natural and rice field landscapes in Southeast Asia. However, latrine site use by small-clawed otters in rice field landscapes is largely unknown. Based on a 53-week field survey and landscape analyses, we investigated latrine site use by small-clawed otters in rice field landscapes in West Sumatra, Indonesia. Using land use and/or local environmental variables as predictors, we performed generalized linear model analyses to explain the spatial patterns of latrine site occurrence and otter visitation frequency to latrine sites. We determined that small-clawed otters use some latrine sites repeatedly over time; 10 latrine sites were still in use more than 7 years after their initial discovery. Generalized linear model analyses revealed that an intermediate number of rice field huts was the single most important predictor of latrine site occurrence, whereas distance to the nearest settlement, distance to the river, and mean water depth of the rice field adjacent to the latrine site were important predictors of otter visitation frequency to latrine sites. These results indicate that the latrine site preferences of small-clawed otters in rice field landscapes are strongly associated with intermediate levels of rice farming activities. Indonesian rice fields are being degraded or disappearing at an accelerated rate because of land conversion and modernization of agriculture. We emphasize an urgent need for design and implementation of otter-friendly rice farming to conserve small-clawed otters.


Scent marking Otter spraint Habitat preference Satoyama Rice paddy field 



The first author received a RISTEKDIKTI scholarship from the Indonesian Ministry of Research, Technology, and Higher Education as a doctoral student at Kanazawa University. A portion of this research was funded by a Rufford Small Grant (No. 17544-2). We thank Mahfud Huda, Ferdi Andeska, and other students at Andalas University who helped with data collection in the field. We also thank the farmers for granting permission to conduct field surveys in their rice fields. We also thank the editors and two anonymous reviewers for their constructive comments on earlier drafts of the manuscript, which helped us to improve the content.

Supplementary material

11284_2017_1496_MOESM1_ESM.pdf (918 kb)
Supplementary material 1 (PDF 917 kb)


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Copyright information

© The Ecological Society of Japan 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Graduate School of Natural Science and TechnologyKanazawa UniversityKanazawaJapan
  2. 2.Biology DepartmentAndalas UniversityPadang West SumatraIndonesia
  3. 3.Institute of Nature and Environmental Technology, Kanazawa UniversityKanazawaJapan

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