|Researched by||Jacqueline Hill||Refereed by||This information is not refereed.|
|Other common names||-||Synonyms||-|
Callianassa subterranea is a burrowing prawn up to 4 cm long. The body is elongate with a small carapace and short rostrum and is relatively soft (i.e. not strongly calcified). The chelipeds (claws) are massive and unequal and are larger in males than females of the same carapace length. The species is pale puce, sometimes darker, in colour.
There are two common species of Callianassid prawns in Europe: Callianassa subterranea and Callianassa tyrrhena. Callianassa tyrrhena is larger in size, up to 67mm and is whitish in colour with pink or blue spots, sometimes greenish grey. Ingle (1997) reports Callianassa tyrrena to be a synonym of Callianassa subterranea.
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|Phylum||Arthropoda||Arthropods, joint-legged animals, e.g. insects, crustaceans & spiders|
|Class||Malacostraca||Crabs, lobsters, sand hoppers and sea slaters|
|Order||Decapoda||Crabs, shrimps, prawns, crayfish and lobsters|
|Typical abundance||Moderate density|
|Male size range||up to 40mm|
|Male size at maturity|
|Female size range||Carapace length 7.0 - 7.5mm|
|Female size at maturity|
|Growth rate||See additional information below|
|Body flexibility||High (greater than 45 degrees)|
|Characteristic feeding method||Sub-surface deposit feeder|
|Typically feeds on||Organic content of sediment particles.|
the parasitic isopod Ione thoracica.
|Is the species harmful?|
Rowden & Jones (1994) estimated that Callianassa subterranea could achieve a carapace length of 6.5 mm by the end of the first year. They noted that other estimates were similar and cited growth estimates of 6 mm, 8 mm and 9.5 mm in carapace length in the first year.
Callianassa subterranea is a sub-surface deposit feeder. Feeding takes place entirely within the burrow and once a burrow is established, much of the subsequent burrowing activity is for the purpose of obtaining food. Although it has been suggested that Callianassa subterranea is also a facultative filter-feeder (Nickell & Atkinson, 1995) and may 'garden' bacteria within its burrow detailed behavioural studies reveal the species to be a genuine deposit feeder (Stamhuis et al., 1996). Sediment is processed before ingesting and so contains a larger silt fraction than the sediment.
The density of Callianassa subterranea individuals varies between 2 and 60 shrimps per m² (Künitzer et al., 1992). Although population density of Callianassa subterreanea is often high, Rowden & Jones (1994) observed individual shrimps to be aggressive and intolerant of each other. The role of such aggressive behaviour may be important to the regulation of population density. It is also suggested that shrimp population density may control aspects of burrow morphology. In the laboratory, Callianassa subterranea showed self-inhibiting burrow construction. Burrows were smaller when individuals were present in high densities (Rowden & Jones, 1995).
The bopyrid isopod Ione thoracica resides in the branchial chamber beneath the carapace of Callianassa subterranea. A significant enlargement of the carapace allows for easy identification of those individuals suffering from such parasitism. Potential effects of bopyrid infestation are the prevention or reduction of maturation of eggs in females and reduction of testes and slenderization of the primary chelae in males (Rowden & Jones, 1994).
|Physiographic preferences||Open coast, Offshore seabed, Strait / sound, Sea loch / Sea lough, Enclosed coast / Embayment|
|Biological zone preferences||Lower circalittoral, Lower infralittoral, Sublittoral fringe, Upper circalittoral, Upper infralittoral|
|Substratum / habitat preferences||Muddy sand, Sandy mud|
|Tidal strength preferences||Moderately Strong 1 to 3 knots (0.5-1.5 m/sec.), Very Weak (negligible), Weak < 1 knot (<0.5 m/sec.)|
|Wave exposure preferences||Extremely sheltered, Sheltered, Ultra sheltered, Very sheltered|
|Salinity preferences||Full (30-40 psu)|
|Depth range||From low water to -50m|
|Other preferences||No text entered|
|Migration Pattern||Non-migratory / resident|
|Reproductive type||Gonochoristic (dioecious)|
|Reproductive frequency||Biannual episodic|
|Fecundity (number of eggs)||No information|
|Age at maturity||1 year|
|Life span||2-3 years|
|Duration of larval stage||1-2 months|
|Larval dispersal potential||No information|
|Larval settlement period||Insufficient information|
This MarLIN sensitivity assessment has been superseded by the MarESA approach to sensitivity assessment. MarLIN assessments used an approach that has now been modified to reflect the most recent conservation imperatives and terminology and are due to be updated by 2016/17.
|Substratum loss will also involve loss of the species and so intolerance is high. The species is iteroparous, possibly breeding twice a year, producing planktonic larvae and so recovery is expected to be rapid. Immigration of adults can also aid recovery.|
|Tolerant||Not relevant||Not sensitive||Not relevant|
|Callianassa subterranea lives in burrows deep in sandy mud habitats and so will not be sensitive to smothering by 5 cm of sediment. However, the species may be intolerant of smothering by other materials, particularly oil.|
|Tolerant||Not relevant||Not sensitive||Moderate|
|Callianassa subterranea is a deep (burrows up to 81cm deep) burrowing species so changes in suspended sediment are unlikely to have a direct effect. However, levels of suspended sediment and siltation may affect food availability although at the benchmark period of 1 month this is unlikely to be significant. For example, a decrease in suspended sediment and siltation may reduce the amount of organic sediment that settles on the seabed reducing food availability for Callianassa subterranea. In the North Sea, where sediments have a low organic content Rowden & Jones (1997) found Callianassa subterranea had to construct much more complex burrows to support their energetic costs. However, reduced organic content is unlikely to affect the survival or viability of the population and so the species is reported as tolerant of changes in suspended sediment.|
|Low||Very high||Very Low||Moderate|
|Callianassa subterranea is a soft bodied animal that is likely to have little protection from desiccation. In the intertidal the species is only found on the very low shore where the sediment becomes emersed occasionally at very low spring tides. The sandy mud type habitats in which Callianassa subterranea lives are likely to retain water. Therefore, only a significant increase in desiccation would result in the mortality of some individuals at the highest point on the shore, depressing the upper limit of mud shrimp populations. However, Callianassa subterranea is predominantly a subtidal species living in habitats where desiccation is not a relevant factor. Therefore, the majority of the population are not likely to be affected so intolerance to desiccation is assessed as low. On return to normal conditions recovery will probably be very high because adults can migrate from adjacent habitats such as sediments below low tide.|
|Low||Very high||Very Low||Moderate|
|Callianassa subterranea is predominantly a subtidal species living in habitats where emergence is not a relevant factor. In the intertidal it is only found on the very low shore where the sediment becomes emersed only at very low spring tides. Therefore, an increase in emergence may result in the mortality of some individuals depressing the upper limit of mud shrimp populations. Intolerance to increased emergence is therefore, assessed as low. On return to normal conditions recovery will probably be very high because adults can migrate from adjacent habitats such as sediments below low tide.|
|Callianassa subterranea lives in sandy mud or muddy sand habitats where water flow rates are likely to be low. Increases in flow rate will change the surface layer of the sediment structure, removing the fine mud element to leave the coarser particles behind. A long term increase (i.e. the benchmark level of one year) will change the nature of the top layers of sediment, becoming coarser and thus unsuitable for Callianassa subterranea to live in. However, the species is very deep burrowing so if sediments below the substratum surface continue to be muddy Callianassa subterranea populations will most likely survive. Intolerance is therefore assessed as low. The species is iteroparous, possibly breeding twice a year, producing a planktonic larvae and so recovery is expected to be rapid on return to normal conditions.|
|No information was found on the upper or lower limits of Callianassa subterranea tolerance to temperature changes. However, the species occurs from Norway to the Mediterranean and so most likely tolerates a range of temperatures. In the North Sea, for example, Callianassa subterranea lives in water temperatures which vary between 6 and 15°C (Rowden et al., 1998). The species is probably able to tolerate long term changes in temperature although growth and fecundity is likely to be affected. Short term changes may be more harmful. Intolerance is assessed as low. The species is iteroparous, possibly breeding twice a year, producing a planktonic larvae and so recovery is expected to be rapid. Immigration of adults can also aid recovery.|
|Tolerant||Not relevant||Not sensitive||Not relevant|
|Callianassa subterranea is a deposit feeder and therefore tolerate changes in light attenuation resulting from increased or decreased turbidity. The species also lives at depths of up to 50 m where there is little light and so intolerance is assessed as tolerant.|
|Callianassa subterranea is predominantly a subtidal species living in sheltered muddy habitats where increased wave exposure is likely to remove fine sediments and may disturb normally stable habitats. In the intertidal, the species is found on the very low shore where the sediment becomes emersed only at very low spring tides. In these areas an increase in wave exposure would result in erosion of the sediment. For example, large areas of surface mud were removed from Severn estuary by exposure to prevailing gales and its large tidal range (Ferns 1983 cited in Elliot et al., 1998). Increased wave exposure for a period of a year may therefore, depress the upper limit of the population and may affect deeper populations. However, since the majority of Callianassa subterranea populations are not likely to be affected, intolerance is assessed as low.|
|Tolerant||Not relevant||Not sensitive||Not relevant|
|Callianassa subterranea is unlikely to be sensitive to noise although it is likely to respond to vibrations.|
|Tolerant||Not relevant||Not sensitive||Moderate|
|The eyes of Callianassa subterranea are small but may enable the species to avoid predation and so it is probably sensitive to movement. However, the shrimp remains in its burrow and is rarely seen at the surface so is unlikely to be sensitive to the factor.|
|Not relevant||Not relevant||Not relevant||High|
|The body of Callianassa subterranea is not highly calcified and is quite soft so that it is likely to be easily damaged by abrasion or physical disturbance. However, the factor is not relevant because the species rarely leaves its burrows under normal circumstances and burrows are deep enough, sometimes up to 80 cm, to avoid the factor. Thus physical disturbance like trawling is unlikely to affect Callianassa subterranea to any great extent. Atkinson (1989) for example, found no evidence of an effect of trawling on burrowing species in Loch Sween. Individuals may occasionally be displaced from burrow openings by towed gear (Atkinson, 1989). However, the species will be able to re-establish burrow openings if these become blocked so recovery would be immediate.|
|Callianassa subterranea has low intolerance to displacement, such as that caused by a passing trawl that does not kill the species but throws it into suspension, because it can reburrow into suitable substrata.|
|Bryan & Gibbs (1991) report that crabs appear to be relatively resistant to TBT although some deformity of regenerated limbs has been observed. In the early 1960's in Washington, experimental application of a broad range of pesticides was tested for use on shrimp-infested oyster grounds identified carbaryl (1-napthol n-methyl carbamate; sold under the trade name Sevin®) to be an effective method to control burrowing shrimp (Feldman et al., 2000). Carbaryl, a non-persistent organocarbamate pesticide that is extremely toxic to arthropods, was applied at 9kg/ha to remove shrimps from oyster grounds.|
|Crompton (1997) reports that the concentrations above which mortality of crustaceans can occur is 0.01-0.1mg/l for mercury, copper and cadmium, 0.1-1mg/l for zinc, arsenic and nickel and 1-10mg/l for lead and chromium. Crustaceans are generally regarded as being more intolerant of cadmium than other groups (McLusky, 1986). Ahsanullah et al. (1981) report LC50 values of 1.2mg/l Zn, 0.5mg/l Cd and 0.2mg/l Cu for Callianassa australiensis. The higher toxicity of copper to Callianassa australiensis agrees with toxicity information reported for other crustaceans by Bryan (1971). Callianassa tyrrhena bioaccumulates mercury and cadmium in its tissues (Thaker & Haritos, 1991(a); Thaker & Haritos, 1991(b)). However, crustaceans in general are less intolerant of most heavy metals than annelid worms and so intolerance has been assessed as intermediate. On return to normal conditions recovery should be good because Callianassa subterranea has planktonic larvae and reproduces several times a year.|
|Callianassa subterranea is very intolerant of oil pollution. In the North Sea, abundance of the species was significantly reduced up to and over 1km away from the site of oil drilling one year after drilling ceased (Daan et al., 1992). Jackson (1985) showed that the survival capacity of eggs and larvae of the South African burrowing shrimp Callianassa kraussi in the laboratory is severely reduced by exposure to sublethal levels (0.77ppm) of a water-soluble fraction of Qatar crude oil. Intolerance of the species is therefore assessed as High.|
|Hughes & Atkinson(1997) reports that Callianassa subterranea was the only major sediment bioturbator found in radionuclide contaminated sediments close to the Sellafield nuclear processing plant in the Irish Sea. It seems likely therefore, that the species has some tolerance to radionuclide pollution and intolerance is assessed as Intermediate.|
|Low||Very high||Very Low||High|
|The species is found in sediments with a range of organic content. In the soft, organically enriched sediments (typical organic carbon values of 3.6 - 7.8%) of Loch Sween, a sea loch in Scotland, Callianassa subterranea was present as a significant megafaunal burrower (Atkinson, 1989). The maximum depth of the species burrows has been recorded as 86cm, which Nickell & Atkinson (1995) suggest is an underestimate, indicates a nutritional requirement for sub-surface organic matter. In the North Sea, where sediments have a low organic content Rowden & Jones (1997) found Callianassa subterranea had to construct much more complex burrows to support their energetic costs.|
|Although Callianassa subterranea can be found in the intertidal, it is generally found well down the shore where large salinity changes are not likely to occur. The species is not recorded from estuaries where salinity is variable. Callianassa subterranea is stenohaline, tolerating only a narrow range of salinities, and is therefore likely to be highly intolerant of salinity changes at the level of the benchmark.|
|Low||Very high||Very Low||High|
|In its natural habitat, even if the near-bottom water is oxygenated, most of the time Callianassa subterranea lives in hypoxic or even anoxic conditions (Powilleit & Graf, 1996). In laboratory experiments the species survived for up to five days under anoxic conditions at 6°C (Powilleit & Graf, 1996). Mud shrimps are among the few species to survive the low oxygen partial pressures and high sulphide levels in the vicinity of fish cages in sea lochs (Atkinson, 1987). The species has several adaptations that allow it to survive in low oxygen environments: a low rate of oxygen consumption, large gill areas and possession of a respiratory pigment with a high oxygen affinity (Astall et al., 1997; Taylor et al., 2000). Intolerance is therefore, recorded as low. Laboratory experiments on Callianassa subterranea have shown the species also has a high tolerance to sulphide (Johns et al., 1997).|
|No information||No information||No information||Not relevant|
|No information on diseases of Callianassa subterranea was found.|
|Not relevant||Not relevant||Not relevant||Not relevant|
|No alien or non-native species are known to compete with Callianassa subterranea.|
|The species is unlikely to be extracted for commercial purposes although Ingle (1997) reports that a very similar species, Callianassa tyrrhena, is occasionally trawled by fishing boats and used as fish bait by anglers. Recovery is likely to be high because the species is iteroparous, possibly breeding twice a year, produces planktonic larvae and can also migrate from unaffected areas.|
|Tolerant||Not relevant||Not sensitive||High|
|Callianassa subterranea does not depend on other species for prey or as a host.|
- no data -
|National (GB) importance||-||Global red list (IUCN) category||-|
Ahsanullah, M., Negilski, D.S. & Mobley, M.C., 1981. Toxicity of zinc, cadmium and copper to the shrimp Callianassa australiensis. I. Effects of individual metals. Marine Biology, 64, 299-304.
Astall, C.A., Anderson, S.J. & Taylor, A.C., 1997. Comparative studies of the branchial morphology, gill area and gill ultrastructure of some thalassinidean mud-shrimps (Crustacea: Decapoda: Thalassinidea). Journal of Zoology, 241, 665-688.
Atkinson, R.J.A. & Nash, R.D.M., 1990. Some preliminary observations on the burrows of Callianassa subterranea (Montagu) (Decapoda: Thalassinidea) from the west coast of Scotland. Journal of Natural History, 24, 403-413.
Atkinson, R.J.A., 1988. The burrowing megafaunal communities of the upper arms of Loch Sween. Report to the Nature Conservancy Council, December 1987 (fieldwork undertaken between 21-27 June and 24-29 August 1987)., Unpublished, Peterborough: Nature Conservancy Council. (NCC CSD Report 795).
Atkinson, R.J.A., 1989. Baseline survey of the burrowing megafauna of Loch Sween, proposed Marine Nature Reserve, and an investigation of the effects of trawling on the benthic megafauna. Report to the Nature Conservancy Council, Peterborough, from the University Marine Biological Station, Millport, pp.1-59.
Bryan, G.W. & Gibbs, P.E., 1991. Impact of low concentrations of tributyltin (TBT) on marine organisms: a review. In: Metal ecotoxicology: concepts and applications (ed. M.C. Newman & A.W. McIntosh), pp. 323-361. Boston: Lewis Publishers Inc.
Bryan, G.W., 1971. The effects of heavy metals (other than mercury) on marine and estuarine organisms. Proceedings of the Royal Society of London (Series B), 177, 389-410.
Crompton, T.R., 1997. Toxicants in the aqueous ecosystem. New York: John Wiley & Sons.
Daan, R., Groenewould Van Het, H., Jong De, S.A. & Mulder, M., 1992. Physico-chemical and biological features of a drilling site in the North Sea, 1 year after discharges of oil-contaminated drill cuttings. Marine Ecology Progress Series, 91, 37-45.
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Ingle, R., 1997. Crayfishes, lobsters and crabs of Europe. An illustrated guide to common and traded species. London: Chapman and Hall.
Jackson, L.F., 1985. The effects of Qatar crude oil on reproductive success in the sand-prawn Callianassa kraussi under static aquarium conditions. South African Journal of Marine Science, 3, 89-97.
Johns, A.R., Taylor, A.C., Atkinson, R.J.A. & Grieshaber, M.K., 1997. Sulphide metabolism in thalassinidean Crustacea. Journal of the Marine Biological Association of the United Kingdom, 77, 127-144.
Lindley, J.A., 1987. Continuous plankton records: the geographical distribution and seasonal cycles of decapod crustacean larvae and pelagic post-larvae in the north-eastern Atlantic Ocean and the North Sea. Journal of the Marine Biological Association of the United Kingdom, 67, 145-167.
Nickell, L.A. & Atkinson, R.J.A., 1995. Functional morphology of burrows and trophic modes of three thalassinidean shrimp species, and a new approach to the classification of thalassinidean burrow morphology. Marine Ecology Progress Series, 128, 181-197.
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Rowden, A.A. & Jones, M.B., 1997. Recent mud shrimp burrows and bioturbation. Porcupine Newsletter, 6, 153-158.
Rowden, A.A., Jones, M.B. & Morris, A.W., 1998. The role of Callianassa subterranea (Montagu) (Thalassinidea) in sediment resuspension in the North Sea. Continental Shelf Research, 18, 1365-1380.
Stamhuis, E.J., Dekker, T., van Etten, Y. & Videler, J.J., 1996. Behaviour and time allocation of the burrowing shrimp Callianassa subterranea (Decapoda, Thalassinidea). Journal of Experimental Marine Biology and Ecology, 204, 225-239.
Taylor, A.C., Astall, C.M. & Atkinson, R.J.A., 2000. A comparative study of the oxygen transporting properties of the heamocyanin of five species of thalassinidean mud-shrimps. Journal of Experimental Marine Biology and Ecology, 244, 265-283.
Thaker, A.A. & Haritos, A.A., 1991. Cadmium bioaccumulation and effects on soluble peptides, proteins and enzymes in the hepatopancreas of the shrimp Callianassa tyrrhena. MAP Technical Reports Series, 48, 13-32.
Thaker, A.A. & Haritos, A.A., 1991. Mercury bioaccumulation and effects on soluble peptides, proteins and enzymes in the hepatopancreas of the shrimp Callianassa tyrrhena. MAP Technical Reports Series, 48, 89-104.
Witbaard, R. & Duineveld, G.C.A., 1989. Some aspects of the biology and ecology of the burrowing shrimp Callianassa subterranea (Montagu) (Thalassinidae) from the southern North Sea. Sarsia, 74, 209-219.
NBN (National Biodiversity Network) Atlas. Available from: https://www.nbnatlas.org.
OBIS (Ocean Biogeographic Information System), 2019. Global map of species distribution using gridded data. Available from: Ocean Biogeographic Information System. www.iobis.org. Accessed: 2019-04-25
South East Wales Biodiversity Records Centre, 2018. SEWBReC Myriapods, Isopods, and allied species (South East Wales). Occurrence dataset: https://doi.org/10.15468/rvxsqs accessed via GBIF.org on 2018-10-02.
This review can be cited as:
Last Updated: 24/11/2005