Sun and landscape orientation in adult and juvenile sandhoppers Orchestoidea tuberculata (Amphipoda, Talitridae) from two beaches in south central Chile


  • Conflict of interest The authors declare no conflict of interests.

Felicita Scapini, Dipartimento di Biologia Animale e Genetica “Leo Pardi”, University of Florence, Florence, Italy. E-mail:


The behaviour of a talitrid amphipod, Orchestoidea tuberculata Nicolet 1849, was investigated for populations inhabiting two exposed sandy beaches in south central Chile to evaluate orientation capabilities with respect to sun azimuthal changes and landscape. The study beaches (Calfuco and La Misión) were backed by high cliffs but differed in shoreline orientation. Under test conditions of dry substrate, both populations oriented seawards using celestial cues when landscape vision was screened off and showed a higher concentration seawards when they could see the landscape suggesting additive effects of these cues. The absence of a phototactic response to the sun implies the involvement of an inner circadian clock, as the experiments were conducted at different times of the day. The distribution of juveniles was more concentrated than adults in the trials, a result in accordance with their tendency to occupy a zone located closer to the water than adults. Our results suggest that the Calfuco population was oriented to its shoreline, while animals at La Misión tended to deviate from the expected direction and their distribution was more scattered. This observed difference between the populations may be related to the higher human impact on the latter beach, which was more intensively used for recreation and periodically cleaned, removing the wrack. The comparison of results on orientation of O. tuberculata with those of different sandhopper species contributes new phylogenetic insight concerning this important adaptation. This study not only represents an extension of contemporary knowledge of behavioural adaptations of beach amphipods to coasts differing geographically and ecologically, but also analyses orientation in a southern Pacific species of talitrid amphipod for the first time.