Journal of Ethology

, Volume 37, Issue 2, pp 213–219 | Cite as

The burrowing sand lance Ammodytes japonicus (Teleostei, Ammodytidae) prefers benthic sediments of low shear strength

  • Azusa Endo
  • Nami Iwasaki
  • Jun-ya Shibata
  • Takeshi Tomiyama
  • Yoichi SakaiEmail author


The sand lance Ammodytes japonicus in the Seto Inland Sea burrows into sandy benthic sediments to rest, escape predation, and estivate. To investigate the physical properties of the sediments preferred by A. japonicus, we conducted a laboratory experiment measuring the incidence at which individuals burrowed into different types of benthic sediments collected from the Mihara Strait, a part of the Seto Inland Sea, Japan. Using stepwise multiple regression analyses, we confirmed that shear strength was the most important factor explaining variations in the mean number of A. japonicus burrowing into a given sediment. The number of burrowed individuals was the highest in sediments with low shear strength, suggesting that the ease with which burrowing A. japonicus individuals can penetrate the sediment strongly affects habitat preference.


Ammodytes japonicus Burrowing behavior Grain size Shear strength 



We thank the staff of the training vessel Toyoshio-maru of Hiroshima University and members of the laboratory of the Biology of Aquatic Resources for their support during field sampling. Drs. T. Yanagi, W. Nishijima, K. Tada, S. Nakai, T. Okuda, A. Umehara, S. Asaoka, H. Yamamoto, M. Nakajima, S. Otani, N. Fujii, K, Yamamoto, and T. Kusakabe are thanked for fruitful discussions. We also thank Drs. M. Tanda, S. Gorie, T. Nishikawa, and H. Hashimoto for providing information on sand lance biology. We would like to express our deep gratitude to Mr. M. Mori (Mori Suisan) for his help and support. We would like to thank Editage ( for English language editing. We are grateful to two anonymous reviewers for critical reading of our manuscript. This study was supported by the Environment Research and Technology Development Fund S-13 (Development of Coastal Management Methods For Sustainable Coastal Seas) of the Ministry of the Environment, Government of Japan.

Compliance with ethical standards

Conflict of interest

The authors declare no conflict of interest.

Ethical notes

All procedures performed in the present study were in accordance with the guidelines for proper conduct of animal experiments and related activities of Hiroshima University (ID: A170410) and the guidelines for ethological studies of the Japan Ethological Society.


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Copyright information

© Japan Ethological Society 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Graduate School of Biosphere ScienceHiroshima UniversityHigashi-HiroshimaJapan
  2. 2.School of Applied Biological ScienceHiroshima UniversityHigashi-HiroshimaJapan
  3. 3.Environmental Research and Management CenterHiroshima UniversityHigashi-HiroshimaJapan

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