BIOTIC Species Information for Corophium volutator
|Researched by||Ken Neal & Penny Avant||Data supplied by||MarLIN|
|Refereed by||This information is not refereed.|
|Scientific name||Corophium volutator||Common name||A mud shrimp|
|MCS Code||S605||Recent Synonyms||None|
|Additional Information||The morphology of the male and female antennae differs significantly and for identification refer to the appropriate key, e.g. Lincoln (1979).|
|Taxonomy References||Howson & Picton, 1997, Lincoln, 1979, Fish & Fish, 1996, Hayward & Ryland, 1995b, Hayward et al., 1996,|
||Feeding method||See additional information
Surface deposit feeder
Active suspension feeder
|Typical food types||Particulate organic matter, epipelic (=living on fine sediment) and epipsammic (= living on sand) bacteria and diatoms.||Habit||Burrow dwelling|
|Bioturbator||Flexibility||High (>45 degrees)|
|Height||Not relevant||Growth Rate||8 - 11 mm/year|
|Adult dispersal potential||1km-10km||Dependency||Independent|
|General Biology Additional Information||Abundance
Corophium volutator is one of the most abundant organisms in estuarine mudflats reaching densities of 100,000 m² in the Stour Estuary, Suffolk (Hughes, 1988). Densities vary with geographical region and season. In Gullmarsfjorden, Wadden Sea winter densities are 100 m² and rise to 1400 m² in the summer (Flach & de Bruin, 1993). In the Crouch Estuary in southeast England, Corophium volutator number 6,000 m² in winter and rise to 50,000 m² in the summer (Gerdol & Hughes, 1993).
There is no dispersive larval phase in the life history of Corophium volutator, instead, the embryos develop in a ventral thoracic brood pouch and emerge as miniature replicas of their parents and build a burrow off that of the parent (Hughes, 1988). Reproduction ceases below 7°C (McLusky, 1968) so, in the winter, predation significantly decreases the density of Corophium volutator.
Corophium volutator has the habit of swimming when immersed, which makes them available as prey for the common goby (Pomatoschistus microps) (Flach & de Bruin, 1994), herring (Clupea harengus), sprat (Sprattus sprattus) and smelt (Osmerus eperlanus) (Essink et al., 1989). The swimming behaviour of Corophium volutator has been reported by several authors. In the Ems Estuary, Wadden Sea, it was estimated that 0.06% of the population (3 x 108 individuals) swim on the flood of each tide, leading to a net landward movement of the population (Essink et al. 1989). In the Stour Estuary, southeast England, Corophium volutator was found to swim only at night, on or around spring tides and only between May and August. It was estimated that on any one tide 6-19% of the population swam and that it was mainly immature animals that swam (Hughes, 1988). Holmström & Morgan (1983a) also found this species swimming at spring tide, mainly on the ebb just after high tide. Corophium volutator is a poor swimmer and is vulnerable to predation whilst in the water column, so there must be a benefit to swimming that outweighs the risk of predation. Hughes (1988) proposed several theories as to why Corophium volutator would elect to swim:
Corophium volutator ingests particles 4 -63 µm in diameter. Food consists of bacteria, diatoms and particulate organic matter (POM) (Gerdol & Hughes, 1994a; Hughes, 1988; Jensen & Kristensen, 1990). There has been some disagreement in the literature about which of these is the most important in the diet. Diatoms are crushed individually to avoid ingestion of siliceous frustules, thus it is difficult to estimate rate of diatom consumption by Corophium volutator (Gerdol & Hughes, 1994a). Feeding occurs at all stages of the tide, suspension feeding at high tide and deposit feeding at low tide. Three modes of feeding have been recorded in Corophium volutator.
|Biology References||Hughes, 1988, Essink et al., 1989, Jensen & Kristensen, 1990, Raffaelli et al., 1991, Gerdol & Hughes, 1993, Flach & de Bruin, 1993, Holmström & Morgan, 1983a, Flach & de Bruin, 1994, Gerdol & Hughes, 1994a, Gerdol & Hughes, 1994b, Forbes et al., 1996, Fish & Mills, 1979, Limia & Raffaelli, 1997, Brown et al., 1999, McLusky, 1968,|
|Distribution and Habitat|
|Distribution in Britain & Ireland||Widely distributed on all coasts of Britain. Widely separated records in Ireland.|
|Global distribution||North Atlantic, American and European coasts; from western Norway to the Mediterranean and the Black Sea and Azov Sea. There is also a Japanese variety, Corophium volutator orientalis (Omori & Tanaka, 1998).|
|Biogeographic range||Not researched||Depth range||Intertidal|
|Migratory||Non-migratory / Resident|
|Distribution Additional Information||The distribution of Corophium volutator within estuaries changes with season and hydrodynamic conditions. Because of the flood tide swimming habit of Corophium volutator in certain areas (see adult general biology), it is often concentrated within creeks and embayments and all but absent from mudflats even though they are suitable habitat. In the Ythan Estuary, Corophium volutator were found to move in and out of areas depending on salinity. In the summer when freshwater input was low, Corophium volutator was much more widespread than in the winter when high rainfall reduced the interstitial salinity and made certain areas uninhabitable (McLusky, 1968). This pattern is presumably repeated in other estuaries as well.|
|Substratum preferences||Sandy mud
|Biological zone||Upper Eulittoral
|Tidal stream strength/Water flow||Weak (<1 kn)
Very Weak (negligible)
|Salinity||Reduced (18-30 psu)
Variable (18-40 psu)
Full (30-40 psu)
Low (<18 psu)
|Habitat Preferences Additional Information|
|Distribution References||Lincoln, 1979, Fish & Fish, 1996, Hayward & Ryland, 1995b, Hayward et al., 1996, Bruce et al., 1963, Hughes & Gerdol, 1997, Omori & Tanaka, 1998, McLusky, 1968,|
||Developmental mechanism||Direct Development
|Reproductive Season||See additional information||Reproductive Location||Adult burrow|
|Reproductive frequency||Annual episodic||Regeneration potential||No|
|Life span||<1 year||Age at reproductive maturity||<1 year|
|Generation time||<1 year||Fecundity||To ca 50|
|Egg/propagule size||Insufficient information||Fertilization type||Internal|
|Reproduction Preferences Additional Information||Reproductive season
Corophium volutator lives for a maximum of one year (Hughes, 1988) and females can have 2-4 broods in a lifetime (Conradi & Depledge, 1999). Populations in southerly areas such as the Dovey Estuary, Wales or Starrs Point, Nova Scotia have two reproductive episodes per year. Those populations in colder, more northerly areas such as the Ythan Estuary, Scotland or in the Baltic Sea only have one (Wilson & Parker, 1996; Table 1). Gravid females first appear in March with peak numbers occurring in May. These females, having successfully over-wintered and reproduced, die out during June. The juveniles born in May undergo rapid growth and maturation to reproduce from July to September and generate the next over wintering population (Fish & Mills, 1979).
Female Corophium volutator require the presence of a male to mate and must moult to become ovigerous (McCurdy et al., 2000). Males search for females over the mud at low tide on spring tides (Fish & Mills, 1979) and enter burrows of mature females. Fertilization is internal by copulation and the female has to moult before the male can copulate, often leading to males guarding and fighting over females (Forbes et al., 1996). Fertilized eggs are deposited in a ventral thoracic brood pouch where the embryos develop over the following 14 days and are released as juveniles on the spring tide (Fish & Mills, 1979). Brood sizes are 20 -52 embryos (Fish & Mills, 1979; Jensen & Kristensen, 1990).
Populations worldwide generally have a 1:1 sex ratio, but in the Bay of Fundy, the sex ratio was highly skewed towards females. Only 16 - 36% were male and this was not due to higher predation pressure on males by wading birds (Schneider et al., 1994).
|Reproduction References||Hughes, 1988, Jensen & Kristensen, 1990, Schneider et al., 1994, Wilson & Parker, 1996, Forbes et al., 1996, Fish & Mills, 1979, Conradi & Depeledge, 1999, McCurdy et al., 2000, Jones and Frid, 2009,|