Gobies that are phylogenetically related or coexist in the same marine and estuarine systems often exhibit abiotic and/or biotic habitat segregation. Thus, it is possible that species of Gymnogobius inhabiting the same riverine estuaries also exhibit abiotic and/or biotic habitat segregation. The goal of this study was to determine the differences in abiotic and biotic habitat use between these species by sampling goby and host shrimps, and by examining the physical environments of the rivers where these species are found. The surveys of goby and host shrimps were conducted in the estuaries of the Saba and Ibo rivers, which drain into the Seto Inland Sea, a body of water that separates three of the four main islands of Japan. We used hand nets and shovels to collect goby and host shrimps, and measured median sediment particle size, elevation, and salinity at each site. Generalized linear models (GLMs) were used to assess the preferences in abiotic and biotic habitat use by the goby species. Median particle size, salinity, and elevation were used as the abiotic environmental predictors, whereas the presence/absence of host shrimps were re-organized into four categories consisting of “Upogebia major” only, “Nihonotrypaea japonica” only, “Upogebia major & Nihonotrypaea japonica,” and “Upogebia yokoyai,” which were used as the biotic environmental predictors. The GLMs demonstrated that median particle size had the largest influence of the abiotic variables, with goby species segregating according to differences in sediments; moreover, there was some evidence suggesting that the host and symbiont do not always correlate at the species level. Our results indicated that although there is some overlap in abiotic and biotic habitat use among the four species of Gymnogobius, the differences were broad enough to provide an explanatory mechanism as to how these species can coexist in the same river systems.
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