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You are here: Home / Library / RBINS Staff Publications / Effects of environmental stress on the condition of Littorina littorea along the Scheldt estuary (The Netherlands)

H.a Van den Broeck, H.a De Wolf, T.a Backeljau and R.a Blust (2007)

Effects of environmental stress on the condition of Littorina littorea along the Scheldt estuary (The Netherlands)

Science of the Total Environment, 376(1-3):346-358.

The condition of the periwinkle Littorina littorea, expressed in terms of its shell morphology, reproductive impairment (i.e. female sterility/intersex, male penis shedding), trematode infestation load, lipid reserves and dry/wet weight ratio, was determined in function of environmental stress along the polluted Western and relatively clean Eastern Scheldt estuary (The Netherlands). The upstream increasing pollution and decreasing salinity levels along the Western Scheldt estuary (Fig. 1) are reflected in the dry/wet weight ratio and lipid content of the periwinkles. Compared to the Eastern Scheldt, female intersex (i.e. indicator of TBT pollution) and sterility occurred more frequently in the Western Scheldt estuary, while male penis shedding was even restricted to the latter estuary. The highest population intersex and sterility incidence was found near the harbour of Vlissingen and reflects potential nautical activities. The number of trematode infested periwinkles did not differ between both estuaries, although local sampling site differences were detected within each estuary, reflecting the complex interactions that exist among parasites, hosts and the local environment. Finally, both estuaries were maximally discriminated from each other based on the shell weight of the periwinkles using a canonical discriminant analysis. Periwinkles with the heaviest shells were found in the Western Scheldt estuary and may reflect growth rate or structural population differences caused by the less favourable living conditions in the Western Scheldt estuary. © 2007 Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.

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