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Infestation of the surf clam Mesodesma donacium by the spionid polychaete Polydora bioccipitalis

Riascos, Jose M., Heilmayer, Olaf, Oliva, Marcelo E., Laudien, Jurgen and Arntz, Wolf E. (2008) Infestation of the surf clam Mesodesma donacium by the spionid polychaete Polydora bioccipitalis Journal of Sea Research, 59, (4), pp. 217-227. (doi:10.1016/j.seares.2008.01.003).

Record type: Article


The surf clam Mesodesma donacium is an economically important species for Chilean and Peruvian shellfisheries. This clam is often infested by Polydora bioccipitalis, a species belonging to the Spionidae, the most common parasitic polychaete group. To study this association, clams were sampled monthly over a one-year period in northern Chile. Collected clams covered the entire available size range and were classified into four infestation levels in order to study: (1) the relationship between prevalence of infestation (PI) and host size, (2) the temporal pattern of infestation events related to seasonal temperature changes, and (3) the relationship between infestation, body condition index (BCI) and gonado-somatic index (GSI). Additionally, growth rate and digging ability of clams with different infestation levels was studied. A logistic regression model best explained the relationship between PI and host size, with the smallest infested clam being 34 mm long and PI increasing steeply thereafter. Ontogenetic shifts in the habitat of the clam and ontogenetic changes, mainly in shell morphology, seem to explain the sigmoid pattern. Periods of increased shell blistering after infestation by P. bioccipitalis showed a similar seasonal pattern with GSI and BCI of non-infested clams, suggesting either an
association between infestation ability and low condition of the clam or common environmental triggers for those factors. Heavily infested clams showed a significant lower BCI, growth rate and digging ability; however, given its low number, they are unlikely to be significant in terms of the local population survival. However, the infestation could play a key role in explaining mass mortality of northern populations during El Niño events,
given the latitudinal differences in PI and the fact that infestation ability could be enhanced by increased temperature and facilitated in stressed clams.

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Published date: August 2008


Local EPrints ID: 51149
ISSN: 1385-1101
PURE UUID: 0a73796e-0062-42c4-bdda-36195a1a1931

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Date deposited: 07 May 2008
Last modified: 17 Jul 2017 14:49

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Author: Jose M. Riascos
Author: Olaf Heilmayer
Author: Marcelo E. Oliva
Author: Jurgen Laudien
Author: Wolf E. Arntz

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