Skip to main content
Log in

Change in the subtidal reef fish assemblage at Kuchierabu-jima Island, southern Japan, between 1972 and 2005

  • Short Report
  • Published:
Ichthyological Research Aims and scope Submit manuscript


Change in the subtidal reef fish assemblage at Kuchierabu-jima Island, southern Japan, since the 1970s was investigated using an underwater visual census in October 2005. A comparison of this survey with data from 1972 revealed that the frequencies of species that had either increased, remained stable, or declined in abundance were dependent on the geographic range category and the major feeding guild. Temperate herbivorous fishes had noticeably declined in abundance, while subtropical carnivorous species had increased. We discuss causes of the change in the reef fish assemblage from the aspect of water temperature, loss of macroalgal beds, and anthropogenic impacts.

This is a preview of subscription content, log in via an institution to check access.

Access this article

Price excludes VAT (USA)
Tax calculation will be finalised during checkout.

Instant access to the full article PDF.

Fig. 1
Fig. 2
Fig. 3
Fig. 4

Similar content being viewed by others


  • Barry JP, Baxter CH, Sagarin RD, Gilman SE (1995) Climate-related, long-term faunal changes in a California rocky intertidal community. Science 267:672–675

    Article  CAS  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  • Figueira WF, Booth DJ (2010) Increasing ocean temperatures allow tropical fishes to survive overwinter in temperate waters. Glob Chang Biol 16:506–516

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Fodrie FJ, Heck KL Jr, Powers SP, Graham WM, Robinson KL (2010) Climate-related, decadal-scale assemblage changes of seagrass-associated fishes in the northern Gulf of Mexico. Glob Chang Biol 16:48–59

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Froese R, Pauly D (2018) FishBase. Accessed 20 November 2018

  • Fulton CJ, Berkström C, Wilson SK, Abesamis RA, Bradley M, Åkerlund C, Barrett LT, Bucol AA, Chacin DH, Chong-Seng KM, Coker DJ, Depczynski M, Eggertsen L, Eggertsen M, Ellis D, Evans RD, Graham NAJ, Hoey AS, Holmes TH, Kulbicki M, Leung PTY, Lam PKS, van Lier J, Matis PA, Noble MM, Pérez-Matus A, Piggott C, Radford BT, Tano S, Tinkler P (2020) Macroalgal meadow habitats support fish and fisheries in diverse tropical seascapes. Fish Fish (Oxf) 21:700–717

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Gushima K (1981) Study on the feeding ecology of reef fishes in Kuchierabu Island. J Fac Appl Biol Sci, Hiroshima Univ 20:35–63 (in Japanese with English abstract)

    Google Scholar 

  • Gushima K, Murakami Y (1977) Species composition of the reef fishes at Honmura bay of Kuchierabu Island. J Fac Fish Anim Husb, Hiroshima Univ 16:107–114 (in Japanese with English abstract)

    Google Scholar 

  • Gushima K, Murakami Y (1978) Vertical zonation of reef fishes at Honmura bay of Kuchierabu Island. J Fac Fish Anim Husb, Hiroshima Univ 17:175–189 (in Japanese with English abstract)

    Google Scholar 

  • Holbrook SJ, Schmitt RJ, Stephens JS Jr (1997) Changes in an assemblage of temperate reef fishes associated with a climate shift. Ecol Appl 7:1299–1310

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Horta e Costa B, Assis J, Franco G, Erzini K, Henriques M, Goncalves EJ, Caselle JE (2014) Tropicalization of fish assemblages in temperature biogeographic transition zones. Mar Ecol Prog Ser 504:241–252

  • James NC, Whitfield AK (2023) The role of macroalgae as nursery areas for fish species within coastal seascapes. Cambridge Prisms: Coastal Futures 1:e3

    Google Scholar 

  • Japan Fisheries Agency (2021) Isoyake Taisaku Guideline 3rd edition. Japan Fisheries Agency, Tokyo

  • Japan Meteorological Agency (2011) Teiki Shindan Hyou, Kisyou Toukei Jyouhou. Accessed 7 December 2011

  • Japan Meteorological Agency (2020) Taihu keiro zu. Accessed 23 April 2020

  • Kimura Y, Wanishi A, Sakai Y, Hashimoto H, Gushima K (2014) Fish fauna of rocky tide pools at Kuchierabu-jima Island, southern Japan. Fauna Ryukyuana 11:1–7 (in Japanese with English abstract)

    Google Scholar 

  • Kimura Y, Hibino Y, Miki R, Minetoma T, Koeda K (2017) Field guide to fishes of Kuchinoerabu-jima Island in the Osumi Group, Kagoshima, southern Japan. The Kagoshima University Museum, Kagoshima (in Japanese)

    Google Scholar 

  • Kiyomoto S, Yamanaka H, Yoshimura T, Yatsuya K, Shao H, Kadota T, Tamaki A (2021) Long-term change and disappearance of Lessoniaceae marine forests off Waka, Ikishima Island, northwestern Kyushu, Japan. Nippon Suisan Gakkaishi 87:642–651 (in Japanese with English abstract)

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Kumagai NH, Molinos JG, Yamano H, Takao S, Fujii M, Yamanaka Y (2018) Ocean currents and herbivory drive macroalgae-to-coral community shift under climate warming. Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A 115:8990–8995

    Article  CAS  PubMed  PubMed Central  Google Scholar 

  • Kurihara T, Takami H, Kosuge T, Chiba S, Iseda M, Sasaki T (2011) Area-specific temporal changes of species composition and species-specific range shifts in rocky-shore mollusks associated with warming Kuroshio Current. Mar Biol 158:2095–2107

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Lassig BR (1983) The effects of a cyclonic storm on coral reef fish assemblages. Environ Biol Fishes 9:55–63

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Masuda R (2008) Seasonal and interannual variation of subtidal fish assemblages in Wakasa Bay with reference to the warming trend in the Sea of Japan. Environ Biol Fishes 82:387–399

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Nagai S, Yoshida G, Tarutani K (2011) Change in species composition and distribution of algae in the coastal waters of western Japan. In: Casalegno S (ed) Global warming impacts - case studies on the economy, human health, and on urban and natural environments. InTech Open Access Publisher, Rijeka, Croachia, pp 209–236

    Google Scholar 

  • Nakabo T (2002) Fishes of Japan with pictorial keys to the species, English ed. Tokai University Press, Tokyo

    Google Scholar 

  • Nakabo T (2013) Fishes of Japan with pictorial keys to the species, 3rd ed. Tokai University Press, Kanagawa (in Japanese)

    Google Scholar 

  • Nakamura Y (2018) Climate-induced changes in seaweeds and their associated fish fauna. Aquabiology 236:220–225 (in Japanese with English abstract)

    Google Scholar 

  • Nakazono A (2002) Fate of tropical reef fish juveniles that settle to a temperate habitat. Fish Sci 68:127–130

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Nishida T, Nakazono A, Oikawa S, Matsui S (2005) Changes of the coastal fish fauna in the Chikuzen sea according to rise of sea water temperature in recent years. Sci Bull Fac Agric, Kyushu Univ 60:187–201 (in Japanese with English abstract)

    Google Scholar 

  • Okamura O, Amaoka K (1997) Sea fishes of Japan. YAMA-KEI publishers, Tokyo (in Japanese)

    Google Scholar 

  • Pecl GT, Araújo MB, Bell JD, Blanchard J, Bonebrake TC, Chen IC, Clark TD, Colwell RK, Danielsen F, Evengård B, Falconi L, Ferrier S, Frusher S, Garcia RA, Griffis RB, Hobday AJ, Janion-Scheepers C, Jarzyna MA, Jennings S, Lenoir J, Linnetved HI, Martin VY, McCormack PC, McDonald J, Mitchell NJ, Mustonen T, Pandolfi JM, Pettorelli N, Popova E, Robinson SA, Scheffers BR, Shaw JD, Sorte CJB, Strugnell JM, Sunday JM, Tuanmu MN, Vergés A, Villanueva C, Wernberg T, Wapstra E, Williams SE (2017) Biodiversity redistribution under climate change: impacts on ecosystems and human well-being. Science 355:eaai9214

    Article  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  • Perry AL, Low PJ, Ellis JR, Reynolds JD (2005) Climate change and distribution shifts in marine fishes. Science 308:1912–1915

    Article  CAS  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  • R Core Team (2019) R: a language and environment for statistical computing. R foundation for statistical computing, Vienna, Austria

  • Sakai Y, Ochi Y, Tsuboi M, Kadota T, Shimizu N, Shoji J, Matsumoto K, Mabuchi K, Kuniyoshi H, Ohtsuka S, Hashimoto H (2010) Fish fauna of shallow waters of Aki Nada, Seto Inland sea, Japan. Journal of the Graduate School of Biosphere Science, Hiroshima University 49:7–20 (in Japanese with English abstract)

    Google Scholar 

  • Sano M, Shimizu M, Nose Y (1984) Food habits of teleostean reef fishes in Okinawa Island, southern Japan. Univ Mus Univ Tokyo Bull 25:1–128

    Google Scholar 

  • Shibuno T, Ogata S, Hashimoto H, Gushima K (1994) Reproductive behavior of the parrotfish, Calotomus japonicus, at Kuchierabu-jima. J Fac Appl Biol Sci, Hiroshima Univ 33:37–41 (in Japanese with English abstract)

    Google Scholar 

  • Tanaka T (2011) A review of the barren ground phenomenon and the recovery of seaweed communities in Kagoshima, southern Japan. Bull Kagoshima Pref Fish Technol Dev Cent 1:13–18 (in Japanese with English abstract)

    Google Scholar 

  • Tanaka K, Taino S, Haraguchi H, Prendergast G, Hiraoka M (2012) Warming off southwestern Japan linked to distributional shifts of subtidal canopy-forming seaweeds. Ecol Evol 2:2854–2865

    Article  PubMed  PubMed Central  Google Scholar 

  • Tawa A, Takegaki T (2009) Fish fauna in the coastal area of Nomozaki, Nagasaki. Bull Fac Fish, Nagasaki Univ 90:9–18 (in Japanese with English abstract)

    Google Scholar 

  • Terada R, Suzuki T (2011) Preliminary study of benthic marine algae from Kuchinoerabu Island, Kagoshima, Japan. Kagoshima Univ, Res Cent Pac Isl Occas Pap 51:69–75 (in Japanese with English abstract)

    Google Scholar 

  • Tribble GW (1982) Social organization, patterns of sexuality, and behavior of the wrasse Coris dorsomaculata at Miyake-jima, japan. Environ Biol Fishes 7:29–38

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Troast B, Paperno R, Cook GS (2020) Multidecadal shifts in fish community diversity across a dynamic biogeographic transition zone. Divers Distrib 26:93–107

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Vergés A, Steinberg PD, Hay ME, Poore AGB, Campbell AH, Ballesteros E, Heck KL Jr, Booth DJ, Coleman MA, Feary DA, Figueira W, Langlois T, Marzinelli EM, Mizerek T, Mumby PJ, Nakamura Y, Roughan M, van Sebille E, Gupta AS, Smale DA, Tomas F, Wernberg T, Wilson SK (2014) The tropicalization of temperate marine ecosystems: climate-mediated changes in herbivory and community phase shifts. Proc R Soc B 281:20140846

    Article  PubMed  PubMed Central  Google Scholar 

  • Yamano H, Sugihara K, Nomura K (2011) Rapid poleward range expansion of tropical reef corals in response to rising sea surface temperatures. Geophys Res Lett 38:L04601

    Article  Google Scholar 

Download references


We are grateful to the people of Kuchierabu-jima Island for allowing us to conduct the fieldwork. We thank S. Maeda, K. Kobayashi, and T. Minetoma for their support during the fieldwork. We are grateful to T. Shibuno and M. Noda for helpful comments on the manuscript. We thank our colleagues at the Biology of Aquatic Resources, Hiroshima University, for helpful discussions and support. Thanks are also due to H. Shimabukuro for providing advice on identifying the seaweeds. Cynthia Kulongowski with Edanz ( edited a draft of this manuscript. This study was carried out in compliance with the laws of Japan.

Author information

Authors and Affiliations


Corresponding author

Correspondence to Tatsuru Kadota.

Ethics declarations

Conflict of interest

The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest

Ethics approval

This study complied with the current laws of Japan and the guidelines of the Ichthyological Society of Japan.

Additional information

Publisher's Note

Springer Nature remains neutral with regard to jurisdictional claims in published maps and institutional affiliations.

Supplementary Information

Below is the link to the electronic supplementary material.

Supplementary file1 (PDF 135 KB)

About this article

Check for updates. Verify currency and authenticity via CrossMark

Cite this article

Kadota, T., Shimizu, N., Tsuboi, M. et al. Change in the subtidal reef fish assemblage at Kuchierabu-jima Island, southern Japan, between 1972 and 2005. Ichthyol Res (2024).

Download citation

  • Received:

  • Revised:

  • Accepted:

  • Published:

  • DOI: