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Identifying repaired shell damage and abnormal calcification in the stout razor clam Tagelus plebeius as a tool to investigate its ecological interactions
Lomovasky, B.J.; Gutiérrez, J.L.; Iribarne, O.O. (2005). Identifying repaired shell damage and abnormal calcification in the stout razor clam Tagelus plebeius as a tool to investigate its ecological interactions. J. Sea Res. 54(2): 163-175.
In: Journal of Sea Research. Elsevier/Netherlands Institute for Sea Research: Amsterdam; Den Burg. ISSN 1385-1101, more
Peer reviewed article  

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    Burrowing organisms; Calcification; Damage; Parasitism; Predator prey interactions; Predators; Tagelus plebeius (Lightfoot, 1786) [WoRMS]; Argentina, Cordoba, Mar ChiquitaL. [Marine Regions]; Marine

Authors  Top 
  • Lomovasky, B.J.
  • Gutiérrez, J.L.
  • Iribarne, O.O.

    Analysis of acetate peels of shell sections of the stout razor clam Tagelus plebeius from the Mar Chiquita coastal lagoon (37° 32′S, 57°19′W, Argentina) revealed the presence of a series of repaired shell margin breaks and different types of abnormal calcifications on the inner surface of their valves. Shell damage and subsequent repair was observed in 73% of the specimens analysed (70.3% of them with scars in both valves around the shell margin, 54.5% with the posterior shell area damaged in one or both valves, 30% with more than one damage). There were only few sediment grains incorporated in the shell matrix when scars occurred around the shell margin. A field experiment suggests that this pattern of shell damage results from natural re-burrowing (vertical movement) activities. However, 10% of the individuals showed an inner shell alteration forming a blister full of sediment grains in the area of the shell pallial sinus. These blisters were associated with repaired shell breaks in the posterior part of the valve, which was confirmed with a field experiment. The development of such blisters could be an indirect consequence of sub-lethal predatory attacks by the American oystercatcher Haematopus palliatus, given that this species breaks the posterior part of the shells of stout razor clams when extracting them from the sediments. The third type of shell alteration (94.3% of the shells) was an orange to brown coloration on the inner shell surface concurrently with irregular carbonate deposition that, in some cases, results in the formation of localised calcium carbonate concretions. This pattern is associated with the presence of metacercariae of gymnophallid parasites. In conclusion, Tagelus plebeius is able to repair its shell after damage produced by different agents. These repairs are very distinctive and, thus, they can be used as evidence of interactions between this clam and its environment (e.g. sediment characteristics) and the associated community (e.g., predators, parasites).

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