Burrowing behavior, habitat, and functional morphology of the Pacific sand lance (Ammodytes personatus).
The Pacific sand lance (Ammodytes personatus) is a small, elongate forage fish that spends much of its life buried in the seafloor. We determined that the Pacific sand lance can burrow in a wide variety of sediments from silt to gravel, but it prefers coarse sand (0.50-1.00 mm grain size). In the absence of coarse sand, the Pacific sand lance chooses larger grain sizes over smaller ones. These preferences are independent of light or the compaction of sediment, and therefore indicate that visual cues and ease of entry are not primary means of choosing burial substrate. Instead, we speculate that the Pacific sand lance is morphologically adapted for rapid mobility in coarse sand and that coarse sand has enough interstitial spaces to enable respiration during protracted immersion. As an obligate burrower in specific sediments, the Pacific sand lance is a good candidate for habitat-based management. Substrate maps of 3 fishing grounds in southeast Alaska where the Pacific sand lance is abundant and where habitat-based management is practiced were used to create potential habitat maps. Different geologic histories have resulted in variable amounts of preferred (sand-gravel), suitable (sand mixed with silt, cobble-boulder, or rock outcrop), and unsuitable (mud, pebble-boulder) habitat for this species among regions. [ABSTRACT FROM AUTHOR], Article