In this case, it had already been identified as Arcitalitrus dorrieni, the 'landhopper', 'woodhopper' or 'lawn shrimp' by the finder/sender, Dennis Trunecka of the Southampton Natural History Society. This is an interesting find as it is Australian in origin (New South Wales & Southern Queensland), with the first UK record being from the Scilly Isles in 1924. Since then, it has been found in a number of sites across southern England, and also in Ireland, the Channel Isles, west Wales and western Scotland (coastal when north of southern England). However, it is not entirely clear how widely it has established itself in the last couple of decades, although individuals can move tens of metres per day as well as being moved over longer distances by the plant trade etc. (Cowling et al. 2004).
|Arcitalitrus dorrieni found in woodland leaf litter in Hampshire. The seven segments of the peraeon and the three segments of the pleon are indicated. Length (head to rear of body in this curved position) approx. 6.5mm.|
Identification is fairly straightforward, especially given the small number of possible confusion species. Orchestia cavimana is an introduced semi-terrestrial Mediterranean amphipod (Konopacka et al. 2009) but much paler in colour - A. dorrieni is variably dark, and orange when dead as here, though pale if preserved). However, there is another introduced terrestrial amphipod, A. sylvaticus, although this is much rarer in the UK. Using the key in Peart & Lowry (2006), the two species can be separated by looking at the epimera (the three segments of the pleon, singular 'epimeron'). In A. dorrieni, the 2nd epimeron is longer than the 3rd while in A. sylvaticus they are more-or-less equal. In the top photo, this is unclear as the rear edge of eipermon 3 is obscured by one of the legs, but with some legs (re)moved, it is clear that this is A. dorrieni. There are other features which might be required to separate further species but these do not (yet) occur in the UK, although it is possible they could be imported with plants.
|A. dorrieni - from the green lines, it is clear that epimeron 2 is longer than epimeron 3.|
|A. dorrieni showing its lateral compression.|
|Head of A. dorrieni (side view)|
|Mouth and mouthparts of A. dorrieni (ventral view)|
Cowling, J.E., Spicer, J.I., Weeks, J.M. & Gaston, K.J. (2004). Current status of an amphipod invader, Arcitalitrus dorrieni (Hunt, 1925) in Britain. Journal of Natural History 38: 1665-1675.
Konopacka, A., Grabowski, M., Bącela-Spychalska, K. & Rewicz, T. (2009). Orchestia cavimana Heller, 1865 (Amphipoda: Talitridae) enters freshwater inland habitats in the Vistula River, Poland. Aquatic Invasions 4(4): 689-691.
O'Hanlon, R.P. & Bolger, T. (1999). The importance of Arcitalitrus dorrieni (Hunt) (Crustacea: Amphipoda: Talitridae) in coniferous litter breakdown. Applied Soil Ecology 11: 29-33.
Peart, R. & Lowry, J.K. (2006). The amphipod genus Arcitalitrus (Crustacea: Amphipoda: Talitridae) of New South Wales forests, with descriptions of six new species. Records of the Australian Museum 58: 97-118.
Richardson, A.M.M. (1980). Notes on the occurrence of Talitrus dorrieni Hunt (Crustacea: Amphipoda: Talitridae) in south-west England. Journal of Natural History 14: 751-757.