Invasion History

First Non-native North American Tidal Record: 1954
First Non-native West Coast Tidal Record: 1954
First Non-native East/Gulf Coast Tidal Record:

General Invasion History:

Ampelisca abdita is native to the Western Atlantic from Maine to Florida, Louisiana, and the Gulf of Mexico (Bousfield 1973). It was introduced to the west coast of North America around 1954, but not recognized initially, because of its similarity to the native A. milleri. It is found in California from Tomales Bay to Port Hueneme (Carlton 1979; Chapman 1988; Fairey et al. 2002).

North American Invasion History:

Invasion History on the West Coast:

Ampelisca abdita was first reported from the West Coast in San Francisco Bay in 1954 (Jones 1961, cited by Carlton 1979). Until Carlton (1979), this small estuarine amphipod was identified as the larger deeper-water native form A. milleri. The use of coarse sieves (1 mm aperture) in benthic surveys also delayed the discovery of this species (Carlton 1979; Chapman 1988; Cohen and Carlton 1995). Ampelisca abdita could have been introduced with oysters in the 19th or early 20th centuries, or later with ballast water, or with seaweed used as packing material for bait or seafood.

In San Francisco Bay, A. abdita ranges throughout the moderately brackish to marine parts of the Bay from Carquinez Straits (occasionally upstream to Antioch at the seaward edge of the Delta) to the Golden Gate, though it is rare in the seaward parts of the Central Bay and in Suisun Bay (Cohen and Carlton 1995). Ampelisca abdita is a dominant species in shallow-water sediments and intertidal mudflats in South San Francisco Bay. Populations show regular seasonal cycles of abundance, with two generations per year – a spring peak of reproduction and a lesser fall peak, which produces an over-wintering generation. In San Pablo and Suisun Bay, A. abdita's abundance shows greater fluctuation with salinity (Nichols and Thompson 1985a).

Ampelisca abdita is established in other California estuaries from Port Hueneme (1st record 2001, Fairey et al. 2002), Elkhorn Slough (1st record 1998, Wasson et al. 2001), Bolinas Lagoon (1st record 1971, Carlton 1979), and Tomales Bay (1st record 1969, Carlton 1979). Currently, the known range of this species on the West Coast is from Tomales Bay to Port Hueneme.


Description

Ampelisca abdita has a laterally compressed and curved body, with a flattened head and four well-developed eyes. The head bears two pairs of antennae, the second being about 1 1/2 X as long as the first and about 1/3 the total body length. The length of the head is about 5/6 of the length of the first three thoracic segments. The bases of the limbs are covered by large coxal plates, bearing setae on their lower margin. Segment 2 of pereiopods 5 and 7 are enlarged. Segment 3 of pereiopod 7 is longer than segment 4. Pleonite 3 has a squared-off postero-distal corner, lacking a tooth, where it joins the first segment of the urosome. Uropod 1 extends below uropod 2 and the outer ramus bears 1-2 spines. The telson is about 2X as long as wide, and is deeply split. 

Ampelisca abdita can be distinguished from the similar Pacific coast species A. milleri by the enlarged postventral lobe of pereiopod 3, the absence of spines on the anterior edges of articles 3 and 4, the strongly bifid dactyl of pereiopod 6, and the greater extension of the posterior edge of article 2 of pereiopod 7 (Chapman 1988). Adults are 4-8 mm long, and typically whitish with red or purple spots. Description based on: Mills 1964a, Bousfield 1973, and Chapman 2007.

Ampelisca abdita constructs a pocket-shaped tube up to 2-3 cm long and 2-3 mm wide. The tube is made from fine sediment. The amphipod lies on its back at the top of the tube and filters the water with its appendages (Bousfield 1973; Lippson and Lippson 1997).


Taxonomy

Taxonomic Tree

Kingdom:   Animalia
Phylum:   Arthropoda
Subphylum:   Crustacea
Class:   Malacostraca
Subclass:   Eumalacostraca
Superorder:   Peracarida
Order:   Amphipoda
Suborder:   Gammaridea
Family:   Ampeliscidae
Genus:   Ampelisca
Species:   abdita

Synonyms

Potentially Misidentified Species

Ampelisca milleri
Ampelisca milleri is morphologically quite similar, but with a more marine distribution, and is found from central California to Ecuador (Chapman 2007)

Ampelisca vadorum
Ampelisca abdita was described in 1964, and distinguished from A. vadorum Mills 1963, which has a more marine East Coast distribution (Mills 1964a).

Ecology

General:

Ampelisca abdita is a tube-building gammarid amphipod which inhabits soft sediment, mainly in protected waters. Gammarid amphipods have separate sexes, brooded embryos, and direct development (Bousfield 1973). Ampelisca abdita from the type locality, Barnstable Harbor, Massachusetts, mature at 4.0 (summer generation) to 6.2 mm (winter-spring generation). The summer generation is smaller, and reaches 6.2 mm, while winter animals can reach 8.0 mm. Females produce 17-35 embryos (Mills 1964a; Mills 1967). Animals in culture at 25C reached maturity in 20 days after birth and produced young in 24-36 days (Redmond et al. 1994). Males leave their tubes and swim at night, but females enter the water column only shortly after molting. Mating occurs in the water column (Borowsky and Aitken-Ander 1991).

Ampelisca abdita has a wide native latitudinal range, from Maine to Florida and Mexico (Bousfield 1973; Winfield et al. 2011). It also has a wide salinity range of 5 (Lee et al. 2003) or 10 PSU (Bousfield 1973), but is most abundant at 10-30 PSU in the San Francisco estuary (Hopkins 1986; Lee et al. 2003; Peterson and Vaysierres 2010). It occurs from the intertidal to depths of 60 m in silt, silty sand, and fine or coarse sand (Mills 1964a; Bousfield 1973). This amphipod constructs narrow mud tubes, 30-40 mm long, and ~3mm wide, wide enough for only one animal (Bousfield 1973). Ampelisca abdita can feed either as a suspension-feeder, removing phytoplankton and other particles from the water column, or removing detritus from the sediment surface (Mills 1967). In Jamaica Bay, New York, A. abdita was the major food item of the Winter Flounder (Pseudopleuronectes americanus) (Franz and Harris 1988). In the San Francisco Bay estuary, it is also an important prey item for bottom-feeding fishes (Barnett et al. 2011).

Food:

Detritus. Phytoplankton

Consumers:

Fishes

Trophic Status:

Deposit Suspension Feeder

DepSusFed

Habitats

General HabitatUnstructured BottomNone
General HabitatOyster ReefNone
General HabitatGrass BedNone
Salinity RangeMesohaline5-18 PSU
Salinity RangePolyhaline18-30 PSU
Salinity RangeEuhaline30-40 PSU
Tidal RangeSubtidalNone
Tidal RangeLow IntertidalNone
Vertical HabitatEndobenthicNone


Tolerances and Life History Parameters

Minimum Salinity (‰)4.9Field (Lee et al. 2003)
Maximum Salinity (‰)35Field Data (Bousfield 1973)
Minimum Reproductive Temperature8Mills 1967
Minimum Length (mm)4Adults (Mills 1964a; Bousfield 1973)
Maximum Length (mm)8.2Adults (Mills 1964a, Bousfield 1973)
Broad Temperature RangeNoneCold temperate-Warm temperate
Broad Salinity RangeNoneMesohaline-Euhaline

General Impacts

Ecological Impacts

Although Ampelisca abdita is abundant in the San Francisco Bay estuary (Hopkins 1986; Lee et al. 2003, Peterson and Vasyierres 2010), there are few detailed studies of its impacts (or lack thereof). However, large populations can construct dense mats, of tubes, potentially altering sediment characteristics (Chapman 1988). Ampelisca abdita is often consumed by fish in the East Coast estuaries (Franz and Tanacredi 1992). Tube-dwelling and free-living gammarid amphipods were important food items for several native (Tule Perch- Hysterocarpus traskii, Prickly Sculpin- Cottus asper, Starry Flounder- Platichthys stellatus) and introduced fishes (Yellowfin Goby - Acanthogobius longimanus) in the San Francisco Bay Delta (Feyrer et al. 2003).

Competition- Nichols and Thompson (1985) observed that settlement of Macoma petalum (as M. balthica) was reduced during peak abundances of A. abdita in the San Francisco estuary, suggesting competition for food or space.

Herbivory- Nichols and Thompson (1985) suggested that an upstream movement of abundant suspension-feeding benthic species, including A. abdita, was responsible for a decline in phytoplankton biomass in Suisun Bay during 1976-1977, a dry period of high salinity (Nichols and Thompson 1985).

Regional Impacts

NEP-VNorthern California to Mid Channel IslandsEcological ImpactCompetition
Nichols and Thompson (1985) observed that settlement of Macoma petalum (as M. balthica) was reduced during peak abudances of A. abdita, suggesting competition for food or space.
P090San Francisco BayEcological ImpactCompetition
Nichols and Thompson (1985) observed that settlement of Macoma petalum (as M. balthica) was reduced during peak abundances of A. abdita, suggesting competition for food or space.
NEP-VNorthern California to Mid Channel IslandsEcological ImpactHerbivory
Nichols and Thompson (1985) suggested that an upstream movement of abundant suspension-feeding benthos, including A. abdita, was responsible for a decline in phytoplankton biomass in Suisun Bay during 1976-1977, a dry period of high salinity (Nichols and Thompson 1985).
P090San Francisco BayEcological ImpactHerbivory
Nichols and Thompson (1985) suggested that an upstream movement of abundant suspension-feeding benthos, including A. abdita, was responsible for a decline in phytoplankton biomass in Suisun Bay during 1976-1977, a dry period of high salinity (Nichols and Thompson 1985).
NEP-VNorthern California to Mid Channel IslandsEcological ImpactFood/Prey
Tube-dwelling and free-living gammarid amphipods were important food items for several native (Tule Perch- Hysterocarpus traskii, Prickly Sculpin- Cottus asper, Starry Flounder- Platichthys stellatus) and introduced fishes (Acanthogobius longimanus, Yellowfin Goby) (Feyrer et al. 2003).
P090San Francisco BayEcological ImpactFood/Prey
Tube-dwelling and free-living gammarid amphipods were important food items for several native (Tule Perch- Hysterocarpus traskii, Prickly Sculpin- Cottus asper, Starry Flounder- Platichthys stellatus) and introduced fishes (Acanthogobius longimanus, Yellowfin Goby) (Feyrer et al. 2003).

Regional Distribution Map

Bioregion Region Name Year Invasion Status Population Status
NA-ET2 Bay of Fundy to Cape Cod 0 Native Estab
NA-ET3 Cape Cod to Cape Hatteras 0 Native Estab
CAR-VII Cape Hatteras to Mid-East Florida 0 Native Estab
CAR-I Northern Yucatan, Gulf of Mexico, Florida Straits, to Middle Eastern Florida 0 Native Estab
NEP-V Northern California to Mid Channel Islands 1954 Def Estab
P090 San Francisco Bay 1954 Def Estab
P110 Tomales Bay 1969 Def Estab
P095 _CDA_P095 (Tomales-Drakes Bay) 1971 Def Estab
P080 Monterey Bay 1998 Def Estab
NEP-VI Pt. Conception to Southern Baja California 2001 Def Estab
P062 _CDA_P062 (Calleguas) 2001 Def Estab
P093 _CDA_P093 (San Pablo Bay) 1954 Def Estab

Occurrence Map

OCC_ID Author Year Date Locality Status Latitude Longitude
768202 Ruiz et al., 2015 2012 2012-08-31 Glen Cove Marina, San Francisco Bay, CA, California, USA Def 38.0663 -122.2130

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