Biodiversity & Conservation

Talitrid amphipods in decomposing seaweed on the strand-line



Image Paul Brazier - View along sand and gravel shore backed by seawall (strandline debris). Image width ca XX cm.
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Distribution map

LS.LSa.St.Tal recorded (dark blue bullet) and expected (light blue bullet) distribution in Britain and Ireland (see below)

  • EC_Habitats

Text page icon Habitat description

Map icon Distribution of biotope in Britain and Ireland A common and widespread biotope around Britain and Ireland that is probably under recorded at many locations owing to its ephemeral nature.
National importance Widespread

Text page icon Description of biotope

For a full description of this biotope including characterizing species, distribution, survey information and references visit JNCC

A community of talitrid amphipods may occur on any shore where decomposing seaweed accumulates on the extreme upper shore strand-line. The community occurs on a wide variety of sediment shores composed of shingle and mixed substrata through to fine sands, but may also occur on mixed and rocky shores in some circumstances. The decaying seaweed provides cover and humidity for Talitrus saltator and other components of the community. The amphipods Orchestia spp. are also often present, as well as enchytraeid oligochaetes. Polychaetes, molluscs and other crustaceans may be brought in on the tide, but are not necessarily associated with the infaunal community. Further analysis of the data may determine that Orchestia spp. are associated with a denser strand and that there are differences in the community dependant upon the substratum-type. Talitrus saltator may occur further down the shore, almost invariably accompanied by burrowing amphipods such as Bathyporeia spp. (LGS.AEur). (Information taken from the Marine Biotope Classification for Britain and Ireland, Version 97.06: Connor et al., 1997a, b).

Additional information icon Additional information

Strand-lines are ephemeral habitats owing to the methods of their formation, but may be more permanent and extensive features particularly in sheltered embayments or estuaries. The strand-line is a fringe habitat, neither fully marine nor terrestrial, it is consequently colonized by invertebrates from both ecosystems. On exposed shores the strand-line is of particular importance because it acts as a precursor to sand dunes. Strand-lines enhance the stabilization of the foreshore by supplementing the organic and moisture content of the substratum so that pioneering plants such as sea sandwort, Honkenya peploides, sea rocket, Cakile maritima, and saltwort, Salsola kali may eventually establish (Shackley & Llewellyn, 1997). This 'open tall herb community' develops best on shores that receive large inputs of detached macroalgae and windblown sand (Ignaciuk & Lee, 1980). Such plants trap sand and favour the development of embryo dunes and subsequent fore dunes (Salisbury, 1952; Chapman, 1976; Davidson et al., 1991). In areas subjected to intensive recreational use and consequently where mechanical beach cleaning is practised, dune formation and stability could be adversely affected (Davidson et al., 1991).

This review can be cited as follows:

Budd, G.C. 2004. Talitrid amphipods in decomposing seaweed on the strand-line. Marine Life Information Network: Biology and Sensitivity Key Information Sub-programme [on-line]. Plymouth: Marine Biological Association of the United Kingdom. [cited 27/11/2015]. Available from: <>