Variability in the degree of euryhalinity of neotropical estuarine annelids

Jan.Beermann [ at ]


Estuaries are highly dynamic, spatially complex systems showing large daily fluctuations in salinity. Estuarine organisms, especially small animals with limited locomotory capacities, are thus expected to have variable ecological and morphophysiological strategies. This paper evaluates the responses to salinity challenges in four species of neotropical annelids along a subtropical estuarine gradient by assessing mortality (i.e., tolerance) and changes in body weight (proxy for water fluxes). We selected the nereidids Alitta sp. and Laeonereis acuta, with broad salinity niches, and the nephtyid Nephtys fluviatilis and the melinnid Isolda pulchella, with either narrow salinity niches or a more restricted spatial range. Worms were weighed, exposed to salinities ranging from fresh water to full-strength seawater (0, 5, 15, 25, and 35) for 1, 6, 12, and 24 h, and weighed again after these exposure times. Their mortality (as absence of body movements or vascular circulation) rates were recorded to assess their ranges of tolerance to these treatments or their degree of euryhalinity. Their integument was characterized histologically to show possible morphological links to their tolerances. Both nereidids displayed stable body weights and thick integuments, compatible with the wide range of salinity tolerance and capacity to maintain body hydration. Body weight of Alitta sp. returned to initial values after 1 h at salinities ≥5. Body weight did not change in L. acuta at salinities ≥15; mortalities occurred only at salinity 0 after 12–24 h. Nephtys fluviatilis showed a thin integument and less variation in weight throughout the whole range of tested salinities, but mortality occurred after 24 h at salinity 0, at its reference salinity (3) and at 35. Isolda pulchella showed a lower capacity to maintain body weight/hydration and a thin integument, compatible with its relative stenohalinity and presence restricted to polyhaline marine sectors. Its weight variation was significant at all salinities except 35; mortality occurred at extreme salinities: 0 and 35. Responses of the four species were compatible with their distribution along the estuarine gradient, as an interesting outcome of their autecological traits, morphophysiological adaptations and evolutionary histories.

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Primary Division
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Helmholtz Cross Cutting Activity (2021-2027)
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Eprint ID
DOI 10.1016/j.jembe.2021.151617

Cite as
Mucciolo, S. , Desiderato, A. , Leal, S. M. , Mastrodonato, M. , Lana, P. and Freire, C. A. (2021): Variability in the degree of euryhalinity of neotropical estuarine annelids , Journal of Experimental Marine Biology and Ecology, 544 (151617), pp. 1-9 . doi: 10.1016/j.jembe.2021.151617

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