Diversity, environmental requirements and biogeography of bivalve wood-borers (Teredinidae) in European coastal waters

Luisa Borges, Lucas Merckelbach, Iris Sampaio, Simon Cragg

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Background: Bivalve teredinids inflict great destruction to wooden maritime structures. Yet no comprehensive study was ever carried out on these organisms in European coastal waters. Thus, the aims of this study were to:
investigate the diversity of teredinids in European coastal waters; map their past and recent distributions to detect range expansion or contraction; determine salinity-temperature (S-T) requirements of species; flag, for future
monitoring, the species that pose the greatest hazard for wooden structures.

Results: A total of nine teredinid species were found established in European coastal waters. Seven were considered cryptogenic, of unknown origin, and two were considered alien species. Teredo navalis and Nototeredo
norvagica were the species with the widest distribution in European waters. Recently, T. navalis has been reported occurring further east in the Baltic Sea but it was not found at a number of sites on the Atlantic coast of southern
Europe. The Atlantic lineage of Lyrodus pedicellatus was the dominant teredinid in the southern Atlantic coast of Europe. In the Mediterranean six teredinid species occurred in sympatry, whereas only three of these occurred in
the Black Sea. The species that pose the greatest hazard to wooden maritime structures in European coastal areas are T. navalis and the two lineages of L. pedicellatus.

Conclusions: Combined data from field surveys and from the literature made it possible to determine the diversity of established teredinid species and their past and recent distribution in Europe. The environmental requirements of species, determined using climatic envelopes, produced valuable information that assisted on the explanation of species distribution. In addition, the observed trends of species range extension or contraction in Teredo navalis and in the two lineages of Lyrodus pedicellatus seem to emphasise the importance of temperature and salinity as determinants of the distribution of teredinids, whereas their life history strategy seems to play an important role on competition. Teredo navalis and pedicellatus-like Lyrodus species should be monitored due to their destructive capability. The two
alien species may expand further their distribution range in Europe, becoming invasive, and should also be monitored.
Original languageEnglish
Article number13
Pages (from-to)13
JournalFrontiers in Zoology
Issue number13
Publication statusPublished - 13 Feb 2014


  • teredinids
  • shipworms
  • sea surface temperature
  • sea surface salinity
  • life history
  • European coastal waters


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