Polar Biology

, Volume 6, Issue 3, pp 171–177 | Cite as

Scavenging and other feeding habits of lysianassid amphipods (Orchomene spp.) from McMurdo Sound, Antarctica

  • Peter N. Slattery
  • John S. Oliver


The distribution and scavenging habits of the two most abundant lysianassid amphipods in McMurdo Sound differ markedly. Orchomene plebs lives primarily in deep water (>100 m), where planktonic and benthic food is sparser and scavenging events are less common and predictable than in shallower water. Orchomene plebs is common in shallow areas (<100 m) only under the Ross Ice Shelf and along the western McMurdo Sound. Here Weddell seals frequent tidal cracks in which they discard carrion and defecate; otherwise food is scarce. Orchomene pinguides lives on shallow (<10 m) wave-cut benches that are rich in food along the eastern McMurdo Sound. They, along with other omnivorous invertebrates which scavenge the food-rich eastern sound benches, are rare from shallow water along the western sound. The eastern benches are bathed by dense plankton blooms and harbor a high biomass of benthic diatoms and invertebrates. Scavenging events there were observed throughout the year. Orchomene plebs is larger and more motile, and came to laboratory carrion and baited field traps more rapidly and in greater numbers than O. pinguides. The crop contents of O. plebs contained only amorphous organic matter that suggested a scavenging habit. Crops of O. pinguides contained not only amorphous organic matter but also invertebrate prey, especially planktonic copepods that impact the bottom during winter.


Biomass Shallow Water Scavenge Event Shallow Area Benthic Diatom 
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.


Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.


  1. Arnaud PM (1970) Frequency and ecological significance of necrophagy among the benthic species of Antarctic coastal waters. In: Holdgate MW (ed) Antarctic ecology, vol 1. Academic Press, London New York, pp 257–267Google Scholar
  2. Arnaud PM (1977) Adaptations within the Antarctic marine benthic ecosystem. In: Llano GA (ed) Adaptations within Antarctic ecosystems. Proc 3rd SCAR Symp Antarct Biol. Smithsonian Institution, Washington, pp 135–157Google Scholar
  3. Barnard JL (1969) The families and genera of maine gammaridean Amphipoda. US Nat Mus Bull 271:1–535Google Scholar
  4. Bousfield EL (1973) Shallow water gammaridean Amphipoda of New England. Comstock, Ithaca New York, 312 ppGoogle Scholar
  5. Bowman TE (1974) The “sea flea” Dolobrotus mardeni n gen n sp, a deep water American lobster bait scavenger (Amphipoda: Eusiriidae). Proc Biol Soc Wash 87:129–138Google Scholar
  6. Bowman TE, Manning RB (1972) Two Arctic bathyal crustaceans: the shrimp Bythocaris cryonesus new species, and the amphipod Eurythenes gryllus, with in situ photographs from Ice Island T-3. Crustaceana 23:187–201Google Scholar
  7. Bregazzi PK (1972a) Life cycles and seasonal movement of Cheirimedon femoratus (Pfeffer) and Tryphosella kergueleni (Miers) (Crustacea: Amphipoda) Br Antarct Surv Bull 30:1–34Google Scholar
  8. Bregazzi PK (1972b) Habitat selection by Cheirimdeon femoratus (Pfeffer) and Tryphosella kergueleni (Miers) (Crustacea: Amphipoda). Br Antarct Surv Bull 31:21–31Google Scholar
  9. Bregazzi PK (1973a) Embryological development in Tryphosella kergueleni (Miers) and Cheirimedon femoratus (Pfeffer) (Crustacea, Amphipoda). Br Antarct Surv Bull 32:63–74Google Scholar
  10. Bregazzi PK (1973b) Locomotor activity rhythms in Tryphosella kergueleni (Miers) and Cheirimedon femoratus (Pfeffer) (Crustacea: Amphipoda). Br Antarct Surv Bull 33–34:17–32Google Scholar
  11. Bullivant JS, Dearborn JH (1967) General accounts, station lists, and benthic ecology. 5. The fauna of the Ross Sea. Bull NZ Dept Sci Indust Res 176:1–77Google Scholar
  12. Bunt JS (1964) Primary productivity of undersea ice in Antarctic waters. 2. Influence of light and other factors on photosynthetic activities of Antarctic marine microalgae. Antarct Res Ser 1:27–31Google Scholar
  13. Busdosh M, Robilliard GA, Tarbox K, Beehler CL (1982) Chemoreception in an Arctic amphipod crustacean: a field study. J Exp Mar Biol Ecol 62:261–269Google Scholar
  14. Dahl E (1979) Deep-sea carrion feeding amphipods: evolutionary patterns in niche adaptation. Oikos 33:167–175Google Scholar
  15. Dayton PK (1972) Ioward an understanding of community residence and the potential effects of enrichment to the benthos at McMurdo Sound, Antarctica. In: Parker B (ed) Proc Coll Conserv Progress Antarct. Allen Press, Lawrence (Kansas), pp 81–95Google Scholar
  16. Dayton PK, Hessler RR (1972) Role of biological disturbance in maintaining diversity in the deep sea. Deep-Sea Res 19:199–208Google Scholar
  17. Dayton PK, Oliver JS (1977) Antarctic soft bottom benthos in oligotrophic and eutrophic environments. Science 197:55–58Google Scholar
  18. Dayton PK, Robilliard GA, Paine RT (1970) Benthic faunal zonation as a result of anchor ice at McMurdo Sound, Antarctica. In: Holdgate MW (ed) Antarctic ecology, vol 1. Academic Press, London New York, pp 244–258Google Scholar
  19. Denton GH, Armstrong RL, Stuvier M (1971) The late Cenozoic glacial history of Antarctica. In: Turekian KK (ed) The later Cenozic glacial ages. Yale University Press, New Haven London, pp 267–306Google Scholar
  20. Hessler RR, Ingram CL, Yayanos AA, Burnett BR (1978) Scavenging amphipods from the floor of the Philippine Trench. Deep-Sea Res 25:1029–1047Google Scholar
  21. Hessler RR, Isaacs JD, Mills EL (1972) Giant amphipod from the abyssal Pacific Ocean. Science 175:636–637Google Scholar
  22. Ingram CL, Hessler RR (1983) Distribution and behavior of scavenging amphipods from the central North Pacific. Deep-Sea Res 30:683–706Google Scholar
  23. Isaacs JD (1969) The nature of oceanic life. Sci Am 221:146–162Google Scholar
  24. Kooyman GL (1981) Weddell seal, consumate diver. Cambridge University Press, Cambridge New York, 135 ppGoogle Scholar
  25. Lampitt RS, Merrit NR, Thurston MH (1983) Inter-relationships of necrophagous amphipods, a fish predator, and tidal currents in the deep sea. Mar Biol 74:73–78Google Scholar
  26. Littlepage JL (1965) Oceanographic investigations in McMurdo Sound, Antarctica. Antarct Res Ser 5:1–37Google Scholar
  27. Oliver JS (1984) Selection for asexual reproduction in an Antarctic polychaete worm. Mar Biol Prog Ser 19:33–38Google Scholar
  28. Oliver JS, O'Connor EF, Watson DJ (1977) Observation on submerged glacial ice in McMurdo Sound, Antarctica. J Glaciol 20:115–121Google Scholar
  29. Oliver JS, Slattery PN (1985) Destruction and opportunity on the sea floor: effects of gray whale feeding. Ecology 66:1965–1975Google Scholar
  30. Paul AZ (1973) Trapping and recovery of living deep-sea amphipods from the Arctic Ocean floor. Deep-Sea Res 20:289–290Google Scholar
  31. Rakusa-Suszczewski S (1982) The biology and metabolism of Orchomene plebs (Hurley 1965) (Amphipoda: Gammaridea) from McMurdo Sound, Ross Sea, Antarctic. Polar Biol 1:47–54Google Scholar
  32. Scarratt DJ (1965) Predation on lobsters (Homarus americanus) by Anonyx sp. (Crustacea: Amphipoda). J Fish Res Board Can 22:1103–1104Google Scholar
  33. Schulenberger E, Hessler RR (1974) Scavenging abyssal benthic amphipods trapped under oligotrophic central North Pacific Gyre waters. Mar Biol 28:185–187Google Scholar
  34. Smith KL, Baldwin RJ (1982) Scavenging deep-sea amphipods: effects of food odor on oxygen consumption and a proposed metabolic strategy. Mar Biol 68:287–298Google Scholar
  35. Stirling I (1969) Ecology of Weddell seal in McMurdo Sound, Antarctica. Ecology 50:573–586Google Scholar
  36. Stockton WL (1982) Scavenging amphipods from under the Ross Ice Shelf, Antarctica. Deep-Sea Res 29:819–835Google Scholar
  37. Stockton WL, De Laca TE (1982) Food falls in the deep sea: occurrence, quality, and significance. Deep-Sea Res 29:157–169Google Scholar
  38. Templeman W (1967) Predation on living fishes on long line in Baffin Bay by the amphipod Eurythenes gryllus (Lichtenstein) and a new distribution record. J Fish Res Board Can 24:215–216Google Scholar
  39. Thurston MH (1974) Crustacea Amphipoda from Graham Land and the Scotia Arc. Br. Antarct Surv Bull 85:1–89Google Scholar
  40. Thurston MH (1979) Scavenging abyssal amphipods from the northeast Atlantic Ocean. Mar Biol 51:55–68Google Scholar
  41. Vader W (1972) Notes on Norwegian marine Amphipoda. 5. New records of Leptamphopus sarsii (Calliopiidae). Sarsia 50:22–28Google Scholar
  42. Valiela I (1984) Marine ecological processes. Springer, New York Berlin Heidelberg, 546 ppGoogle Scholar
  43. Wickins JF (1983) Catches of large lysianassid amphipods in baited traps at the Nuclear Energy Authority dump site during June 1979. Deep-Sea Res 30:83–86Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 1986

Authors and Affiliations

  • Peter N. Slattery
    • 1
  • John S. Oliver
    • 1
  1. 1.Moss Landing Marine LaboratoriesMoss LandingUSA

Personalised recommendations