Marine Biology

, Volume 156, Issue 9, pp 1739–1749 | Cite as

Intertidal slope of coral sand beach as a unique habitat for fish: meiobenthic diet of the transparent sand dart, Kraemeria cunicularia (Gobiidae)

  • Remi TsubakiEmail author
  • Makoto Kato
Original Paper


Coral sand beaches harbor gobiid sand darts (genus Kraemeria), the only fish known to live in the sand throughout their adult life. Despite the uniqueness of sand-dwelling habitat as a vertebrate, the biology of this fish remains unclear. To explore how this unique fish utilize an unusual habitat, we investigated diurnal patterns of microhabitat use and prey consumption by the transparent sand dart, Kraemeria cunicularia, at a sandy beach on Iriomote Island, the Ryukyu Archipelago, Japan. Sand darts were found in sediment in the lower intertidal zone throughout the daytime regardless of changes in tidal level, whereas at nighttime these fish were found swimming. Gut content analyses revealed that the sand dart diet was dominated by harpacticoid copepods throughout the day. Analyses of meiobenthic distribution indicated that these copepods were most abundant at lower intertidal zones where highest numbers of sand darts were found during the daytime; thus, it is possible that microhabitat use of the fish is largely determined by food availability. An extensive distributional survey throughout the Ryukyu Archipelago further indicated that sand darts prefer sandy beaches with well-sorted, coarse sand. These results provide novel insights into how sand darts respond to the tidal rhythm and highlight putative key environmental factors that determine their distribution at both regional and microhabitat scales.


Beach Meiofauna Sandy Beach Harpacticoid Copepod Beach Slope 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.



We appreciate H. Hata, A. Kawakita, T. Yamada and four anonymous reviewers for valuable comments on this study; Y. Kameda, M. Sawamura, K. Kawazoe, Y. Nakase and R. Goto for assistance in the field; T. Okamoto for technical advice on data analysis.

Supplementary material

227_2009_1207_MOESM1_ESM.doc (32 kb)
Supplementary material 1 (DOC 32 kb) S1 Beaches surveyed in the Ryukyu Archipelago for sediment granulometric data and the occurrence of the sand dart. Abbreviations are as follows: + present; − absent
227_2009_1207_MOESM2_ESM.doc (26 kb)
Supplementary material 2 (DOC 26 kb) S2 Summary table of sampling event. O = sampling carried out, X = sampling not carried out
227_2009_1207_MOESM3_ESM.pdf (532 kb)
Supplementary material 3 (PDF 532 kb) S3 Faunal compositions of meiobenthic community at each point in (a) September 2007 and (b) April 2008
227_2009_1207_MOESM4_ESM.pdf (487 kb)
Supplementary material 4 (PDF 486 kb) S4 The mean number of prey individuals ingested per gut at each tidal level in (a) September and (b) April. Bars indicate standard errors


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 2009

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Graduate School of Human and Environmental StudiesKyoto UniversityKyotoJapan

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