Marine Biology

, Volume 150, Issue 6, pp 1333–1343 | Cite as

Reproduction and life-cycle of the beachflea (Orchestia gammarellus (Pallas) (Crustacea: Amphipoda) at thermal and non-thermal sites in the intertidal of Iceland: how important is temperature?

  • A. IngólfssonEmail author
  • Ó. P. Ólafsson
  • D. Morritt
Research Article


The littoral fringe beachflea Orchestia gammarellus (Pallas) is a seasonal breeder over much of its range. Previous studies indicated that temperature was the most important factor initiating breeding while photoperiod appeared inconsequential. We tested the effect of temperature by comparing two populations at non-thermal sites with two populations at thermal sites in Iceland. At the non-thermal sites the species is probably close to its lower temperature tolerance limits, while potentially able to choose optimal temperatures at all times of the year at the thermal sites. The species was a seasonal breeder at all sites, but the breeding season started 2–3 months earlier at thermal sites. Breeding ended at about the same time at all sites. We conclude that photoperiod probably governs breeding season under constant thermal conditions, and this is also supported by observations on laboratory stocks. At the thermal sites the animals became sexually mature in a year or less, as is the case where the species has been studied at lower latitudes, while at the non-thermal sites Icelandic animals, apparently uniquely, need 2 years to become sexually mature.


Breeding Season Pitfall Trap Thermal Spring Ovigerous Female Breeding Activity 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.



We are greatly indebted to Magnea Karlsdóttir who collected and analysed the majority of the animals from the non-thermal sites. María B. Steinarsdóttir and Linda Wendel also participated significantly in this work. Thormóður Ingi Heimisson gave valuable help when collecting at the thermal sites. The experiments described in this paper comply in all respects with Icelandic law.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 2006

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Institute of BiologyUniversity of IcelandReykjavíkIceland
  2. 2.School of Biological Sciences, Royal HollowayUniversity of LondonEghamUK

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