Marine Biology

, 165:36 | Cite as

Facultative commensalism of a free-burrowing urothoid amphipod with a deep burrow-dwelling callianassid shrimp in intertidal sand

  • Akio Tamaki
  • Takumi Kagesawa
  • Seiji Takeuchi
  • Hirofumi Ohashi
  • Soonbo Yang
  • Shinji Sassa
Original paper


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.


This study was partly supported by the Japan Society for the Promotion of Science Grants-in-Aid for Scientific Research JP26440244 to AT and JP15H02265 to SS.

Compliance with ethical standards

Conflict of interest

The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.

Ethical approval

All applicable international, national, and/or institutional guidelines for the care and use of animals were followed.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag GmbH Germany, part of Springer Nature 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  • Akio Tamaki
    • 1
  • Takumi Kagesawa
    • 2
  • Seiji Takeuchi
    • 1
  • Hirofumi Ohashi
    • 2
  • Soonbo Yang
    • 3
  • Shinji Sassa
    • 3
  1. 1.Graduate School of Fisheries and Environmental SciencesNagasaki UniversityNagasakiJapan
  2. 2.Faculty of FisheriesNagasaki UniversityNagasakiJapan
  3. 3.National Research and Development Agency, National Institute of Maritime, Port and Aviation Technology, Port and Airport Research InstituteYokosukaJapan

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