A sand hopper (Ampelisca brevicornis)

Distribution data supplied by the Ocean Biodiversity Information System (OBIS). To interrogate UK data visit the NBN Atlas.Map Help



Ampelisca brevicornis is a typical amphipod with a laterally compressed, smooth, curved body. It grows up to 12mm long and is translucent whitish with scattered dark brown and/or yellow spots. The head bears 2 pairs of small eyes and 2 pairs of slender, unbranched antennae, the second pair being about twice as long as the first. Behind the head the body is not obviously separated into thorax (pereon) and abdomen (pleon) and each segment has its own, similar pair of limbs.

Recorded distribution in Britain and Ireland

Common around all British coasts.

Global distribution

Found round north west Atlantic coasts from west Norway to the western Mediterranean, and in the Canary Isles.


Most common in fine or muddy sand mixed with shell, but also found in coarse sand and gravel, on the lower shore and sublittorally to a depth of 200 m.

Depth range


Identifying features

  • Laterally compressed, smooth, curved body up to 12mm long.
  • Translucent white with dark brown and/or yellow scattered spots.
  • Body not obviously segmented behind the head and each segment with its own pair of relatively similar limbs.
  • Head longer than the segments immediately behind it and cylindrical.
  • 2 pairs of slender antennae, the second pair being about twice as long as the first.
  • There are large coxal plates covering the tops of the limbs.

Additional information

Accurate identification of amphipods can be difficult and usually requires some microscopic examination (see Lincoln, 1979).

Listed by

- none -


  1. Dauvin, J.C., 1988e. Biologie, dynamique, et production de populations de crustacés amphipodes de la Manche occidentale. 2. Ampelisca brevicornis (Costa). Journal of Experimental Marine Biology and Ecology, 119, 213-233.

  2. Hastings, M.H., 1981. The lifecycle and productivity of an intertidal population of the Amphipod Ampelisca brevicornis. Estuarine, Coastal and Shelf Science, 12, 665-677.

  3. Hayward, P., Nelson-Smith, T. & Shields, C. 1996. Collins pocket guide. Sea shore of Britain and northern Europe. London: HarperCollins.

  4. Hayward, P.J. & Ryland, J.S. (ed.) 1995b. Handbook of the marine fauna of North-West Europe. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

  5. Howson, C.M. & Picton, B.E., 1997. The species directory of the marine fauna and flora of the British Isles and surrounding seas. Belfast: Ulster Museum. [Ulster Museum publication, no. 276.]

  6. Lincoln, R.J., 1979. British Marine Amphipoda: Gammaridea. London: British Museum (Natural History).


  1. Environmental Records Information Centre North East, 2018. ERIC NE Combined dataset to 2017. Occurrence dataset: http://www.ericnortheast.org.ukl accessed via NBNAtlas.org on 2018-09-38

  2. NBN (National Biodiversity Network) Atlas. Available from: https://www.nbnatlas.org.

  3. OBIS (Ocean Biodiversity Information System),  2024. Global map of species distribution using gridded data. Available from: Ocean Biogeographic Information System. www.iobis.org. Accessed: 2024-07-21

  4. South East Wales Biodiversity Records Centre, 2018. SEWBReC Myriapods, Isopods, and allied species (South East Wales). Occurrence dataset: https://doi.org/10.15468/rvxsqs accessed via GBIF.org on 2018-10-02.


This review can be cited as:

Avant, P. 2007. Ampelisca brevicornis A sand hopper. In Tyler-Walters H. and Hiscock K. Marine Life Information Network: Biology and Sensitivity Key Information Reviews, [on-line]. Plymouth: Marine Biological Association of the United Kingdom. [cited 21-07-2024]. Available from: https://marlin.ac.uk/species/detail/1780

Last Updated: 15/03/2007