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Contrasting life history patterns of the goby Rhinogobius similis in central Japan indicated by otolith Sr:Ca ratios


Rhinogobius similis a common goby, widely distributed in Far East Asia, is characterized by an amphidromous life history, adult fish inhabiting the lower reaches of rivers, and larvae in the freshwater area being swept downstream to the sea and returning to the river following a period of pelagic marine existence. Individuals were collected from 6 stations in the Ibi, Nagara and Kamo Rivers, central Japan, and their otolith strontium and calcium environmental signatures examined using electron probe microanalyses. The otolith Sr:Ca ratios of R. similis from the Kamo River suggested a typical amphidromous life history, whereas those of fish collected from the Ibi River suggested two types of migratory life history pattern: amphidromous and river resident. In contrast, the otolith Sr:Ca ratios of fish collected at two stations upriver of a dam in the Nagara River estuary suggested an artificially landlocked life history. Emergent plant vegetation in the lower reaches of the Ibi River created slow currents and pools in the river, thereby possibly enhancing the likelihood of a river resident life history. In the Nagara River, however, landlocked specimens had been obstructed in their downstream migration by the dam. It is suggested that R. similis in central Japan has a variable migratory life history pattern, allowing the species to persist in upstream habitats in large rivers.

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We are grateful to Mr. Tatsuya Sato, formerly of Mie University, for collecting specimens. Electrofishing was conducted with the permission of the Mie Prefectural Government. Other sampling complied with Japanese and local government laws. Otolith examination was conducted using equipment at the Community-University Research Cooperation Center and Fish Population Dynamics Laboratory, Mie University. We also thank G. S. Hardy (Ngunguru, New Zealand) for critical reading of the manuscript.

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Correspondence to Daisuke Ishizaki.

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Ishizaki, D., Mukai, T., Kikko, T. et al. Contrasting life history patterns of the goby Rhinogobius similis in central Japan indicated by otolith Sr:Ca ratios. Ichthyol Res 63, 288–293 (2016).

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  • Rhinogobius similis
  • Otolith Sr:Ca ratios
  • Migratory life history pattern