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Distribution and abundance of teredinid recruits along the Swedish coast – are shipworms invading the Baltic Sea?

Journal article
Authors Christin Appelqvist
Jonathan N. Havenhand
Gunilla B. Toth
Published in Journal of the Marine Biological Association of the United Kingdom
Volume 95
Issue 4
Pages 783-790
ISSN 0025-3154
Publication year 2015
Published at Department of Biological and Environmental Sciences, Tjärnö Marine Biological Laboratory
Department of Biological and Environmental Sciences
Pages 783-790
Language en
Keywords climate-change , range expansion , salinity , spatial distribution , Swedish coast , temperature , Teredo navalis
Subject categories Biological Sciences


Copyright © Marine Biological Association of the United Kingdom 2014 Shipworms (teredinids) are highly specialized marine bivalves that consume terrestrially derived wood. Changes in environmental variables may result in shipworms spreading into the Baltic Sea – which would have devastating consequences for maritime cultural heritage and submerged wooden structures. We investigated the distribution and abundance of the shipworms Teredo navalis and Psiloteredo megotara along the Swedish coast in 2006–2008, and compared our findings with data collected at partly the same locations in 1971–1973. Wooden test panels were submerged in near-surface waters at 18 harbours. The presence of shipworms was determined by X-ray radiography of each panel. Sea surface temperature and salinity data were analysed to investigate whether any changes in distribution were correlated to changes in environmental variables. We found that past and present distributions of T. navalis were similar – indicating that no range expansion of shipworms into the Baltic Sea has taken place the last 35 years. The abundance of T. navalis was similar between decades at all investigated sites except two (Arild and Barsebäckshamn), where abundances were higher in 2006–2008. The abundance of T. navalis varied along the coast and was positively correlated to mean sea surface salinity, but not to mean sea surface temperature (2006–2008 data). The distribution and abundance of P. megotara were similar during the two study periods with only single observations at a few sites. In conclusion, we found no evidence of range expansion of shipworms along the Swedish coast.

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