Correlations between gastropod shell dissolution and water chemical properties in a tropical estuary

Although poorly reported in the scientific literature, acidic waters characterize many South East Asian estuaries. The observation of shell dissolution in a typically marine gastropod whelk (Thais) prompted investigation into determining relationships between shell properties of this whelk and the water chemistry (including pH) of the Sungai Brunei estuary (Borneo) in which it occurs. Shell weight, shell length and topographical shell features were determined for populations of Thais gradata distributed along a gradient of pH and salinity ranging between 5.78 and 8.3 pH units, and 3.58 and 31.2 psu. Shell weight varied independently of the co-varying acidity, salinity and calcium levels experienced. In contrast, shell length and a semi-quantitative variable based on shell sculpturing (shell erosion rank, SER) were significantly correlated with these water chemistry variables. This study brings attention to the potential use of estuarine organisms and systems in investigating current marine acidification questions.

Marshall D. J., Santos J. H., Leung K. M. Y. & Chak W. H., 2008. Correlations between gastropod shell dissolution and water chemical properties in a tropical estuary. Marine Environmental Research 66:422-429. Article (subscription required).

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