A guide to the Thalassinidea (Crustacea: Malacostraca: Decapoda) of the South Atlantic Bight

Heard, Richard W., Rachael A. King, David M. Knott, Brent P. Thoma, and Susan Thornton-DeVictor

Ghost shrimp and mud shrimp in the decapod infraorder Thalassinidea are ecologically important members of many benthic intertidal and shallow subtidal infaunal communities, largely due to the sediment filtration and mixing that result from their burrowing and feeding behavior. These activities considerably modify their immediate environment and have made these cryptic animals extremely interesting to scientists in terms of their behavior, ecology, and classification. Over 20 years ago, seven species of thalassinideans were known from the South Atlantic Bight (Cape Hatteras, NC to Cape Canaveral, FL). During this study, the examination of extensive collections from the National Museum of Natural History (NMNH), the Southeastern Regional Taxonomic Center (SERTC), and regional institutions, resulted in the identification of 14 species of thalassinideans currently known to occur within this region. The family Axiidae is represented by three species: Axius armatus, Calaxius jenneri, and Paraxiopsis gracilimana; the Callianassidae by six: Biffarius biformis, B. cf. fragilis, Callichirus major, Cheramus marginatus, Gilvossius setimanus, and Necallianassa berylae; the Calocarididae by two: Calocaris templemani and Acanthaxius hirsutimanus; and the families Laomediidae, Thomassiniidae, and Upogebiidae are each represented by one: Naushonia crangonoides, Crosniera wennerae, and Upogebia affinis, respectively. An illustrated key is presented for species level identification and supplemental notes on the ecology, distribution, and taxonomy of the species are provided.

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