MEPS 219:221-227 (2001)  -  doi:10.3354/meps219221

Eat and run: anoxic feeding and subsequent aerobic recovery by Orchomene obtusus in Saanich Inlet, British Columbia, Canada

Alex De Robertis1,*, Ketil Eiane2, Greg H. Rau3

1Scripps Institution of Oceanography, 8602 La Jolla Shores Drive, La Jolla California 92037-0208, USA
2The University Courses on Svalbard, 9171 Longyearbyen, Norway,
3Institute of Marine Sciences, University of California, Santa Cruz, California 95064, USA
*Present address: NWFSC/NMFS, Hatfield Marine Science Center, 2030 S. Marine Science Drive, Newport, Oregon 97365, USA. E-mail:

ABSTRACT: The lysianassid amphipod Orchomene obtusus (Sars) is known as an epibenthic scavenger, but it is abundant in the water column of Saanich Inlet, British Columbia, a temperate fjord with poorly oxygenated deep water. Sampling with vertically-stratified nets and baited traps indicates that O. obtusus is abundant within the oxycline at 100 to 140 m, is present in anoxic deep waters at low abundances, and is also abundant in the anoxic benthic environment. Shipboard incubations revealed that O. obtusus can survive between 10 and 33 h of anoxia at in situ conditions. Stable isotope and gut fluorescence measurements suggest that these amphipods feed on material produced in surface waters, and not on the isotopically dissimilar suspended detrital material present in the vicinity of the oxycline. The amphipods do not enter surface waters, and it appears that O. obtusus has adapted to oxygen gradients in this environment by feeding on surface-water-derived material in the food-rich and predator-poor anoxic benthos and subsequently migrating into the water column to conduct aerobic respiration. These vertical excursions are probably a modification of the swimming behavior exhibited by hyperbenthic amphipods in well-oxygenated environments, and may constitute an important mechanism for benthic-pelagic coupling.


KEY WORDS: Orchomene obtusus · Amphipoda · Anoxia · Benthic-pelagic coupling · Vertical migration · 13C · 15N


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