Facultative commensalism of a free-burrowing urothoid amphipod with a deep burrow-dwelling callianassid shrimp in intertidal sand
Species of the free-burrowing amphipod genus, Urothoe, are common on open sandy beaches. On intertidal sandflats, some species are associated with burrows or tubes of large infauna. How this link is formed and persisting under sheltered conditions was examined. On an intertidal sandflat in mid-western Kyushu, Japan, U. carda co-occurred with the deep burrow-dwelling callianassid shrimp, Nihonotrypaea harmandi, along a 300-m transect between tide marks. Amphipods resided in the surface 5-cm sediment outside shrimp burrows, as confirmed by sediment coring and burrow casting. In summers 1980 and 1981, the shrimp and amphipod populations were confined to the upper shore at mean densities of 182 and 701 inds m−2, respectively. In winter to spring, when the sediment surface mixing was caused by seasonal wind-induced waves, the amphipod but not the shrimp expanded down to the lowest shore. Later, by 1983, the shrimp increased mean density by 2.5 times and now also ranged to the lowest shore. In the summers of 1984, 2010, and 2015, the amphipod expanded to the lowest shore as well, with small variations in population size. Three marked changes in substrate properties were associated with shrimp inhabitation: thicker oxidized layer (proxy for oxygenated layer) in the sediment column; looser surface sediment, as evaluated with vane shear strength; and coarser and better-sorted surface sediment with less mud content. At least the former two changes were attributable to shrimp bioturbation, which could provide the amphipod with more permeable and softer substrates, leading to the formation of facultative commensalism.
We thank K. Hayashi, T. Hasegawa, S. Miyabe, H. Ueno, H. Kimura, Y. Tanaka, C. Matsumoto, Y. Sato, T. Nakagawa, and K. Watanabe for help in the field work. The water-depth data were provided by Hydrographic and Oceanographic Department, Japan Coast Guard. We appreciate constructive comments from the three reviewers.
Compliance with ethical standards
Conflict of interest
The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.
All applicable international, national, and/or institutional guidelines for the care and use of animals were followed.
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