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Dworschak & Ott, 1993

Decapod burrows in mangrove‐channel and back‐reef environments at the Atlantic barrier reef, Belize

Dworschak, P. C., Ott, J. A.
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Burrows of decapod crustaceans were investigated by in situ resin casting in various mangrove and back‐reef environments. Alpheid shrimps (A. floridanus and A. heterochaelis) were the most numerous burrowing shrimps in soft muddy sediments of mangrove channels. Their burrows consist either of a single U or a series of U's inhabited by a pair of shrimp or are Y‐shaped and inhabited by a single shrimp and a gobiid associate. Large mounds and deep funnels are produced by the thalassinidean Glypturus acanthochirus, both in bare sediments of mangrove channels and in back‐reef subtidal sediments. Their burrows consist of a spiral with several radiating branches leading to the surface and deeper blind chambers often filled with shell particles reaching to a depth of over 160 cm. The thalassinidean Neocallichirus grandimana inhabits the intertidal of protected back‐reef sands; it occupies shallow, mainly horizontal burrows. Corallia‐nassa longiventris, characteristic of coarse sediments of the intertidal and shallow subtidal back‐reef, inhabits simple J‐ to U‐shaped burrows with blindly ending chambers in 60 to 80 cm sediment depth. Axiopsis serratifrons lives in pairs in sediments with a higher content of coral rubble; its burrows are simple, inclined, and spiral‐shaped and reach a sediment depth of 30 cm.

All burrows described in this paper are similar to those previously recorded for the respective species. Only the burrows of alpheids are less deep than those described from the intertidal. The burrowing activity of G. acanthochirus greatly influences grain size distribution and accumulation of large shell particles in deeper sediment layers. Burrow types reflect the systematic group to which the animals belong rather than feeding modes.

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