Estuaries and Coasts

, Volume 34, Issue 2, pp 336–350 | Cite as

Is the Collapse of Mud Shrimp (Upogebia pugettensis) Populations Along the Pacific Coast of North America Caused by Outbreaks of a Previously Unknown Bopyrid Isopod Parasite (Orthione griffenis)?

  • Brett R. Dumbauld
  • John W. Chapman
  • Mark E. Torchin
  • Armand M. Kuris


A dramatic increase in prevalence of the recently discovered bopyrid isopod parasite, Orthione griffenis, likely introduced in the 1980s from Asia to the Pacific coast of North America, coincided with the 2002 collapse of a population of its burrowing mud shrimp host, Upogebia pugettensis, in Willapa Bay, Washington that had been stable since monitoring began in 1988. An examination of whether O. griffenis infections were sufficient to cause this decline and other recently noted U. pugettensis population collapses in Pacific Coast estuaries was conducted. O. griffenis prevalence was the highest in large reproductive-sized female shrimp and caused an estimated average 68% loss of U. pugettensis reproduction in Yaquina Bay, Oregon over a 5-year period. O. griffenis prevalence fluctuated from year to year, but trends were similar in all estuaries sampled. Uninfected shrimp transplanted back into locations from which they had disappeared acquired the parasite, suggesting that O. griffenis is extremely effective at finding its host even in estuaries with very low host density. Since both U. pugettensis and O. griffenis have pelagic larval stages, their population dynamics are also influenced by coastal nearshore oceanography and estuarine recruitment success. Coastwide lack of estuarine recruitment appears to coincide with declines in density of a co-occurring thalassinid shrimp, Neotrypaea californiensis, but cannot alone explain U. pugettensis population collapses. Although patterns observed to date could be explained by the presence of either a native or introduced parasitic castrator, assumptions of a resilient co-evolved host–parasite relationship do not apply for introduced species, so continued efforts to follow the spatial extent and consequences of the O. griffenis–U. pugettensis host–parasite relationship are warranted.


Parasitic castrator Local extinctions Introduced species Neotrypaea californiensis Thalassinidea 



This research was funded in part by the US Department of Agriculture, Agricultural Research Service, the Washington State Legislature via a grant to JWC to examine biological control of shrimp, a grant to AMK from the USFWS through the Coastal Resources Alliance, funding from NSF for the REU program at Hatfield Marine Science Center, and in-kind field assistance from the LCCSC-OYCC field crews. Historical monitoring was funded by the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife and several grants to David Armstrong and BRD from the Western Regional Aquaculture Center. We especially thank Lee McCoy and Cara Fritz for their help in the field and with data analysis. Katelyn Cassidy, Roy Hildenbrand, Roxanna Hintzman, Kristine Feldman, Bruce Kauffman, Michael Herrle, Andy Smith, Lauren Woods, Caitlin White, Xeronimo Castaneda, Erin Ashley, Sara Heerhartz, and numerous others assisted with shrimp sampling. Finally, we thank Melanie Frazier, Vladlina Gerteseva, and two anonymous reviewers for their comments on the manuscript.

Supplementary material

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Copyright information

© U.S. Government 2010

Authors and Affiliations

  • Brett R. Dumbauld
    • 1
  • John W. Chapman
    • 2
  • Mark E. Torchin
    • 3
  • Armand M. Kuris
    • 4
  1. 1.U.S. Department of Agriculture, Agriculture Research Service, Hatfield Marine Science CenterNewportUSA
  2. 2.Department of Fisheries and Wildlife, Hatfield Marine Science CenterOregon State UniversityNewportUSA
  3. 3.Smithsonian Tropical Research InstituteBalboaRepublic of Panama
  4. 4.Marine Science Institute and Department of Ecology, Evolution and Marine BiologyUniversity of CaliforniaSanta BarbaraUSA

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