Multivariate characterisation of the habitats of seven species of Malayan mudskippers (Gobiidae: Oxudercinae)

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Mudskippers (Gobiidae: Oxudercinae) are amphibious gobies. The occurrence and habitats of seven sympatric species of Malayan mudskippers were recorded: Boleophthalmusboddarti, Boleophthalmuspectinirostris, Periophthalmodon schlosseri, Periophthalmus chrysospilos, Periophthalmus gracilis, Periophthalmus variabilis and Scartelaos histophorus. A total of 14 surveys were made at six localities along 120 km of the west coast of the Malay Peninsula in August 1996 and September 2006. A multivariate set of ordinal parameters were used to measure the quantity of environmental water in mudskippers' habitats, and three guilds of species were discriminated. The resulting pattern mirrored the adaptive scenario depicted by physiological and anatomical studies of mudskippers' terrestriality, although in one case a terminal taxon was less terrestrial than other more basal ones. Differentiation of trophic niches may also play a role in habitat selection by the herbivorous Boleophthalmus spp., which were only found in unvegetated, illuminated areas and on wet mud at low tide. With the more terrestrial guild, a significant negative co-occurrence suggested direct interspecific competition.

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