Journal of the Marine Biological Association of the UK

Upogebia deltaura (Crustacea: Thalassinidea) in Clyde Sea maerl beds, Scotland

J.M.  Hall-Spencer a1a2 and R.J.A.  Atkinson a1
a1 University Marine Biological Station, Millport, Isle of Cumbrae, KA28 0EG, Scotland
a2 Division of Environmental and Evolutionary Biology, University of Glasgow, G12 8QQ, Scotland


Burrows inhabited by Upogebia deltaura (Crustacea: Thalassinidea) were studied over a two-year period on two maerl beds at 10 m below Chart Datum (CD) in the Clyde Sea area, Scotland. Labelled burrows proved to be stable features on each ground, with animals able to withstand the impacts of scallop dredging and storm disturbance by re-building the damaged upper sections of their burrows. Resin casts excavated using an air-lift showed that these burrows were inhabited by single individuals. Burrows were deeper, larger and more complicated than was previously thought typical for U. deltaura and other members of the genus. Mapping of burrow systems revealed average densities of 2.9 ind m−2 with up to ten openings m−2. These elusive animals were the deepest burrowing megafauna (to 68 cm) and the most abundant large crustaceans within the maerl bed habitat.