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Diseases of Aquatic Organisms

    DAO prepress abstract   -  DOI: https://doi.org/10.3354/dao03448

    High prevalences of disseminated neoplasia in the Baltic tellin Limecola balthica in the Wadden Sea

    Annabelle Dairain*, Marc Y. Engelsma, Jan Drent, Rob Dekker, David W. Thieltges

    *Corresponding author:

    ABSTRACT: The Baltic tellin Limecola balthica is one of the most common bivalves in intertidal areas in the Northern hemisphere. Over the last two decades, the species has been suffering from a decrease in adult survival in the European Wadden Sea. While several factors such as global warming and fisheries have been suggested to influence the population dynamics of this bivalve mollusc, the potential role of diseases has never been investigated. In this study, we investigated whether disseminated neoplasia, a common proliferative disorder in bivalve molluscs, could play a potential role in the recent population decline of Baltic tellins in the Wadden Sea. We conducted a field survey in the Dutch Wadden Sea to (1) determine whether the disease occurs in Baltic tellins in the Wadden Sea and (2) to quantify the occurrence and severity of the disease via histology. Disseminated neoplasia occurred in L. balthica at each of the 10 sampled locations with very high prevalences (21–89%) compared to those reported elsewhere for this species. 8–87% of affected individuals showed the highest severity category, with severity generally increasing with prevalence. Disseminated neoplasia usually increases mortality among affected individuals and may also be associated with important sub-lethal effects, especially regarding to gametogenesis. Thus, we suggest that disseminated neoplasia may play a key role in the population dynamics of the Baltic tellin, to which extend remains to be investigated in future studies.