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Sanitation with sponge and plunger: western Atlantic slit-wormsnails (Mollusca: Caenogastropoda: Siliquariidae)
Bieler, R. (2004). Sanitation with sponge and plunger: western Atlantic slit-wormsnails (Mollusca: Caenogastropoda: Siliquariidae). Zool. J. Linn. Soc. 140(3): 307-333
In: Zoological Journal of the Linnean Society. Academic Press: London. ISSN 0024-4082, more
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    Anatomy; Animal morphology; Commensalism; Sessile species; Taxonomy; Cerithioidea Fleming, 1822 [WoRMS]; Gastropoda [WoRMS]; Porifera [WoRMS]; Marine

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  • Bieler, R.

    Siliquariid Tenagodus (synonym: Siliquaria) snails are obligatory sponge commensals, with uncoiling and laterally slitted shells embedded inside Demospongiae hosts, and shell apertures facing the outside allowing for respiratory and gill-filter-feeding activities. Live-collected animals observed in situ within hosts provide the first detailed functional morphological study of the group, and form the basis for systematic revision of the western Atlantic members of type genus Tenagodus (Siliquariidae, synonym: Tenagodidae). Three species are recognized. Overall anatomical features of wide-ranging Atlantic T. modestus (Dall, 1881) and T. Squamatus (de Blainville, 1827) [= T. anguillae Mörch, 1861] are similar to those previously described for New Zealand Pyxipoma. A third species, Tenagodus barbadensis sp. nov., is described from Barbados, based on shell characters. The three species live embedded in a few species of halichondriid and thrombid sponges at depths ranging from c. 20 to several hundred metres and show several characters not previously documented for the family. These include a short compressed-S-shaped osphradium, an anal opening positioned in the posterior mantle cavity, and cuspidate inner marginal radular teeth. Presence of shell septa sealing earlier parts of the shell, first described in the early 1800s but subsequently disputed, was verified. Observations on living T. squamatus demonstrated the use of the large tight-fitting operculum in plunger-like fashion, flushing the mantle cavity and discharging waste material (including faeces from the posteriorly located anus) through the shell slit into the host sponge's aquiferous canal system. Uncoiling shells, shell and mantle slits, and specialized opercular, gill and gut morphology are interpreted as adaptive traits of the sessile mode of life embedded in sponge tissue. Actively maintained linkage between snail and sponge water-flow systems provides mutual benefits; these include the allowance for rapid defensive withdrawal and return-to-feeding position of the snail (by using the sponge canal system as a vent or reservoir for displaced water), sanitation of the mantle cavity (waste material can leave the snail through the shell slit at the posterior end of the mantle cavity, avoiding fouling of the gill-feeding system), and by providing increased water flow and, potentially, extra nutritional particles for the sponge (food and waste particles stemming from the snail's activity). The lectotypes selected herein are Serpula anguina Linnaeus, 1758, Tenagodus anguillae Mörch, 1861, and Siliquaria modesta Dall, 1881.

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