Shiny nut clam (Nucula nitidosa)

Distribution data supplied by the Ocean Biodiversity Information System (OBIS). To interrogate UK data visit the NBN Atlas.Map Help

Summary

Description

The shell is subtriangular or oval, smooth, equivalve, inequilateral and 10-13 mm in length. The periostracum is a glossy olive or yellow-olive, whilst the shell is white/grey with bluish growth lines. The valves have bold concentric bands of grey/greenish yellow and fine radiating ribs. The anterior and posterior hinge lines are at right angles to each other. The margin of the shell is finely crenulate.

Recorded distribution in Britain and Ireland

Occurs on all British coasts where the substratum is suitable.

Global distribution

Distributed from Norway, south to the Mediterranean and West Africa.

Habitat

Found offshore on bottoms of fine sand, sandy mud and silt.

Depth range

180 m

Identifying features

  • Shell is subtriangular or oval, and 10-13 mm in length.
  • The periostracum is a distinctive glossy olive or yellow-olive in colour.
  • Anterior and posterior hinge lines are at right angles to one another.
  • Lunule poorly defined.
  • 20-30 hinge teeth anteriorly, 10-14 teeth posteriorly.
  • Shell margin finely crenulate.

Additional information

No text entered

Listed by

- none -

Biology review

Taxonomy

LevelScientific nameCommon name
PhylumMollusca
ClassBivalvia
OrderNuculida
FamilyNuculidae
GenusNucula
AuthorityWinckworth, 1930
Recent SynonymsNucula turgida Gould, 1846Nucula moorei Winckworth, 1930

Biology

ParameterData
Typical abundanceHigh density
Male size range12 mm
Male size at maturity3.5 mm
Female size range3.8 mm
Female size at maturity
Growth formBivalved
Growth rateSee additional information
Body flexibilityNone (less than 10 degrees)
MobilityBurrower
Characteristic feeding methodSee additional information, Sub-surface deposit feeder
Diet/food sourceSee additional information
Typically feeds onMicrozooplankton, organic and inorganic particles and microbes.
SociabilitySolitary
Environmental positionInfaunal
DependencyNo information found.
SupportsNo information
Is the species harmful?No

Biology information

Protobranchs. Nucula nitidosa is a protobranch, a primitive form of bivalve that lacks the extensive gills typical of most bivalves and is, therefore, an obligate deposit feeder (Davis & Wilson, 1985).

Feeding. Nucula nitidosa is a selective deposit feeder that feeds on a variety of microzooplankton, organic and inorganic matter, and microbes including bacteria and fungi. Protobranchs maintain contact with the substratum through a pair of tentacles, that are elongations of the margins of the mouth. Each tentacle is associated with a large fold composed of two flaps, called a labial palp, one located on either side of the mouth (Ruppert & Barnes, 1994). During feeding, the palp probosci are extended between the ventral side immediately posterior to the head of the foot (Yonge, 1939). The probosci extend beyond the confines of the shell and actively search for food particles in the sediment. Material is collected by the tip and passes, by way of a ciliated groove, to the base of the proboscis. Here the food particles are transferred to the inner surface of the pouch which conveys them between the palp lamellae where food is sorted out by the action of complex series of ciliary tracts (Yonge, 1939). It was reported that Nucula nitidosa was also able to feed from inhaled suspensions (Caspers, 1940; cited in Rachor, 1976). This filter-feeding ability was demonstrated but shown to be of little importance for Nucula nitidosa (Trevallion, 1965; cited in Rachor, 1976). Nucula nitidosa may assist in the incorporation of organic material into the ecosystem in two ways. Firstly Nucula nitidosa may eat the organic matter present and convert it into flesh, providing food for predators such as flatfish (Blegvad, 1928; cited in Davis & Wilson, 1985). Secondly, Nucula nitidosa may alter the character of the organic matter, for example by producing faeces.

Growth. It has proved difficult to get a clear idea of the growth rate of Nucula nitidosa from shell ring analysis (Ford, 1925, Allen, 1953b). It has been suggested that this is due to great variability in reproductive behaviour and possibly growth (Rachor, 1976). In the German Bight, the annual growth rate of young Nucula nitidosa was at least 3.5 mm in the first year of life, while older Nucula nitidosa grew more slowly (1 mm and less during subsequent years) (Rachor & Salzwedel, 1976). Allen (1953b, 1954) calculated a maximum age of 12 years for individuals of Nucula nitidosa that were 12 mm long. This value was revised because Allen (1954) did not take the faster growth of juveniles into consideration (Rachor & Salzwedel, 1976). Rachor (1976) assumed that an individual of 3-4 mm in length was 1 year old with a further growth of 1 mm per year, and revised estimates showed that larger individuals around 12 mm in length were 9 years old rather than 12 years. It was also reported that weight increments decrease with age when Nucula nitidosa reach a length of 6.5 mm (Rachor, 1976).

Abundance. Populations of Nucula nitidosa can increase markedly when the bottom sediments are suitable. Petersen (1977) reported that the density of Nucula nitidosa was highest at depths shallower than 50 m (Petersen, 1977). For example:

  • In the German Bight between 1969 and 1974 the average density of Nucula nitidosa was 498 ind/m² (Rachor, 1976);
  • in Aberdeen Bay the species makes up only 6% of the bivalve population on a bottom of coarse sand but 74% when the bottom consisted of fine sand (Tebble, 1976); and
  • in Dublin Bay, a mean density of 350 ind/m² was reported for Nucula nitidosa (Wilson, 1983b).

Biomass and production. According to Stripp (1969; cited in Rachor & Salzwedel, 1976), Nucula nitidosa is the dominant species of the Abra alba community in the German Bight and was found to contribute 23% to the mean macrobenthic biomass of this community. The production of Nucula nitidosa in the German Bight was estimated by Rachor (1976) from seasonal differences in body weights. Trevallion (1965 cited in Davis & Wilson, 1985) calculated some of the components of the energy budget for the closely related Nucula sulcata from British waters. Both studies suggested that about 50% of the total production was allocated to gonad output, a figure considerably in excess of that shown by other bivalves. In Dublin Bay, the production of Nucula nitidosa was 20 KJ m²/yr, which accounted for about 23% of the total benthic productivity of the Bay (Davis & Wilson, 1985).

Mobility. Nucula nitidosa can be found beneath the surface of the sediments from a few millimetres to a few centimetres deep, where it can dig and creep amongst the sediments. It has been suggested that Nucula nitidosa can move a few to several centimetres per day (Rachor, 1976).

Respiration. Nucula nitidosa is representative of the primitive bivalve condition (Purchon, 1968; cited in Holmes et al., 2002). Nucula nitidosa has a comparatively small underdeveloped gill functioning solely as a respiratory organ (Yonge, 1939).

Supports which species. Rachor (1976) reported that epizoic ciliates and hydroid polyps can sometimes be found on the ventral margins of the shells of Nucula nitidosa. Edwards (1965) also reported that the hydroid Neoturris pileata was found living commensally on Nucula nitidosa. Neoturris pileata may impair mobility and interfere with shell growth (Edwards, 1965).

Habitat preferences

ParameterData
Physiographic preferencesOpen coast, Offshore seabed
Biological zone preferencesLower circalittoral, Lower eulittoral, Lower infralittoral, Sublittoral fringe, Upper circalittoral, Upper infralittoral
Substratum / habitat preferencesFine clean sand, Muddy sand, Sandy mud
Tidal strength preferencesModerately strong 1 to 3 knots (0.5-1.5 m/sec.), Weak < 1 knot (<0.5 m/sec.)
Wave exposure preferencesExposed, Moderately exposed, Sheltered
Salinity preferencesFull (30-40 psu)
Depth range180 m
Other preferencesNo text entered
Migration PatternNon-migratory or resident

Habitat Information

-

Life history

Adult characteristics

ParameterData
Reproductive typeGonochoristic (dioecious)
Reproductive frequency Annual protracted
Fecundity (number of eggs)No information
Generation timeInsufficient information
Age at maturity2-3 years
SeasonAutumn - Autumn
Life spanSee additional information

Larval characteristics

ParameterData
Larval/propagule type-
Larval/juvenile development Lecithotrophic
Duration of larval stage2-10 days
Larval dispersal potential See additional information
Larval settlement periodInsufficient information

Life history information

Sexual maturity. In a population of Nucula nitidosa in Dublin Bay most individuals became sexually mature in their second year (Davis & Wilson, 1983b).

Reproduction. Trevallion (1965; cited in Rachor, 1976) reported that in UK waters, Nucula nitidosa matures from spring to summer and spawns in autumn. No winter spawning was observed. However, according to Allen (1953b, 1954) reproduction during winter is probable in British waters. In Dublin Bay, Davis & Wilson (1985) reported that the gametes of Nucula nitidosa were ripening during June and August. In mid-September one single spawning event was reported when over 90% of the sexually mature population spawned (Wilson & Davis, 1938b). It was also suggested that low level spawning may commence in July (Davis & Wilson, 1983a). Davis & Wilson (1938a) suggest the reason for the differences in different populations of Nucula nitidosa is uncertain but may be due to intraspecific differences. Nucula nitidosa produces unusually large eggs with a high lipid content for a bivalve, which helps to sustain the leicthotrophic development of the larvae (Wilson, 1992). Lebour (1938) reported that the length of Nucula nitidosa eggs was about 90 µm. Whereas Rachor (1976) and Davis & Wilson (1983a) reported that the size of Nucula nitidosa eggs ranged from 100 to 150 µm.

Survival of larvae. Wilson (1992) estimated that for a population of Nucula nitidosa spawning, effort would be around 1.1 million potential recruits annually and that survivorship from a juvenile state to appearance in the adult population would be just 1 in 10,000.

Longevity. Nucula nitidosa was thought to have a lifespan of over 20 years (Allen, 1953b) but subsequent studies on population structure and productivity in the German Bight suggested a lifespan of 12 years (Rachor, 1976) and, in Dublin Bay, a lifespan of five to seven years was reported (Davis & Wilson, 1983b, 1985), which suggested a more normal lifespan of some 7 to 10 years (Wilson, 1992).

Mortality rates. Rachor (1976) reported that the mortality rate of Nucula nitidosa was very uncertain. A population of Nucula nitidosa was studied in Dublin Bay. Low larval and adult mortality rates were reported for several years, which was followed by high mortality when adults reached old age (Davis & Wilson, 1983b).

Sensitivity reviewHow is sensitivity assessed?

Physical pressures

Use / to open/close text displayed

 IntoleranceRecoverabilitySensitivityEvidence / Confidence
Substratum loss [Show more]

Substratum loss

Benchmark. All of the substratum occupied by the species or biotope under consideration is removed. A single event is assumed for sensitivity assessment. Once the activity or event has stopped (or between regular events) suitable substratum remains or is deposited. Species or community recovery assumes that the substratum within the habitat preferences of the original species or community is present. Further details

Evidence

Nucula nitidosa lives infaunally in muddy /sandy sediments. Removal of the substratum would also remove the entire population of this species so intolerance has been assessed to be high with a high recoverability. See additional information for recoverability.

High Moderate Moderate Moderate
Smothering [Show more]

Smothering

Benchmark. All of the population of a species or an area of a biotope is smothered by sediment to a depth of 5 cm above the substratum for one month. Impermeable materials, such as concrete, oil, or tar, are likely to have a greater effect. Further details.

Evidence

Nucula nitidosa can tolerate anaerobic conditions for several days and is able to thrive in poorly aerated sediments. Ranchor (1976) suggested that their ability to tolerant anaerobic conditions and their mobility, allowed them to survive when covered by sediments during stormy weather. Ranchor (1976) also reported that Nucula nitidosa was abundant in an area subject to sewage sludge dumping. Therefore, an intolerance of low has been recorded at the benchmark level. Intolerance to other factors such as oil may be higher.

Low Very high Very Low Low
Increase in suspended sediment [Show more]

Increase in suspended sediment

Benchmark. An arbitrary short-term, acute change in background suspended sediment concentration e.g., a change of 100 mg/l for one month. The resultant light attenuation effects are addressed under turbidity, and the effects of rapid settling out of suspended sediment are addressed under smothering. Further details

Evidence

Nucula nitidosa is a deposit feeder and therefore is not directly reliant on suspended matter as a food resource. Davis & Wilson (1983b) reported that the high levels of particulate matter in the water column suggested that turbidity was unlikely to be a factor that limited the distribution of Nucula nitidosa (Davis & Wilson, 1983b). However, an increase in suspended sediment will increase the rate of siltation at the sediment surface which may enhance the food supply for Nucula nitidosa . Therefore Nucula nitidosa is tolerant* of increases in suspended sediment at the benchmark level.

Tolerant* Not relevant Not sensitive* Low
Decrease in suspended sediment [Show more]

Decrease in suspended sediment

Benchmark. An arbitrary short-term, acute change in background suspended sediment concentration e.g., a change of 100 mg/l for one month. The resultant light attenuation effects are addressed under turbidity, and the effects of rapid settling out of suspended sediment are addressed under smothering. Further details

Evidence

Nucula nitidosa is a deposit feeder and is therefore not directly reliant on suspended matter to be able to feed. However a decrease in siltation may result in a decreased rate of deposition on the substratum surface and therefore a reduction in food availability. The benchmark states that this change would occur for one month and therefore would be unlikely to cause mortality. Intolerance has been assessed as low and as feeding activity should return to normal as soon as the suspended sediment levels increase recoverability has been assessed as very high.

Low Very high Very Low Low
Desiccation [Show more]

Desiccation

  1. A normally subtidal, demersal or pelagic species including intertidal migratory or under-boulder species is continuously exposed to air and sunshine for one hour.
  2. A normally intertidal species or community is exposed to a change in desiccation equivalent to a change in position of one vertical biological zone on the shore, e.g., from upper eulittoral to the mid eulittoral or from sublittoral fringe to lower eulittoral for a period of one year. Further details.

Evidence

The effect of desiccation stress on Nucula nitidosa is likely to be minimal as it lives infaunally in muddy sand and is able to burrow into the sediments in order to avoid or reduce the effects of desiccation. Bivalves are also able to respond to desiccation stress by valve adduction i.e. during periods of emersion. Therefore an intolerance of low has been given with a high recoverability.

Low High Low Low
Increase in emergence regime [Show more]

Increase in emergence regime

Benchmark. A one hour change in the time covered or not covered by the sea for a period of one year. Further details

Evidence

An increase in emergence may expose Nucula nitidosa to thermal stress and increase the risk of predation and dislodgement from the sediments. Nucula nitidosa is a burrowing bivalve that lives infaunally in the muddy sands and can be found at depths of 180 m. It is therefore unlikely that the benchmark level would cause mass mortalities. However, those clams further up the shoreline would be more at risk to desiccation stress and mortalities may occur. Therefore, an intolerance of intermediate is given with a high recoverability.

Intermediate High Low Low
Decrease in emergence regime [Show more]

Decrease in emergence regime

Benchmark. A one hour change in the time covered or not covered by the sea for a period of one year. Further details

Evidence

A decrease in emergence, is unlikely to stress Nucula nitidosa and may benefit the species, allowing it to colonize further up the shore and increase its habitat range. Periods of thermal stress, risk of predation and dislodgement would be reduced. Therefore, as decreased emergence may benefit this tolerant* is recorded for this species.

Tolerant* Not relevant Not sensitive* Low
Increase in water flow rate [Show more]

Increase in water flow rate

A change of two categories in water flow rate (view glossary) for 1 year, for example, from moderately strong (1-3 knots) to very weak (negligible). Further details

Evidence

Nucula nitidosa lives in a mixture of fine muddy sand sediments. Increased water flow may cause the substrata to be disturbed and the sediment on the seabed to erode. This scouring of sand and gravel causes coarse sediments to become unstable and difficult to burrow. This may lead to dislodgement and abrasion of Nucula nitidosa. The sediments and the species within such as Nucula nitidosa may then be transported to another area (bedload transport) by increased water flow. It may also damage or prevent settlement of larvae that can lower recruitment levels and lower the population present (Hiscock, 1983). Therefore, an intolerance of intermediate has been assessed with high recoverability.

Intermediate High Low Low
Decrease in water flow rate [Show more]

Decrease in water flow rate

A change of two categories in water flow rate (view glossary) for 1 year, for example, from moderately strong (1-3 knots) to very weak (negligible). Further details

Evidence

In areas exposed to less water flow, the sediments will be more stable (Hiscock, 1983) and particles may become finer and the substrata may become more muddy. However, a decrease in water flow over the benchmark level of 1 year may also cause the substrata to build up and become too muddy for Nucula nitidosa, which prefers muddy sand sediments. Therefore, intolerance has been assessed as intermediate with a high recoverability level.

Intermediate High Low Low
Increase in temperature [Show more]

Increase in temperature

  1. A short-term, acute change in temperature; e.g., a 5°C change in the temperature range for three consecutive days. This definition includes ‘short-term’ thermal discharges.
  2. A long-term, chronic change in temperature; e.g. a 2°C change in the temperature range for a year. This definition includes ‘long term’ thermal discharges.

For intertidal species or communities, the range of temperatures includes the air temperature regime for that species or community. Further details

Evidence

Nucula nitidosa is distributed to the south of the British Isles and so is likely to be tolerant of warmer water temperatures than those it experiences round the British Isles.

Tolerant Not relevant Not sensitive Low
Decrease in temperature [Show more]

Decrease in temperature

  1. A short-term, acute change in temperature; e.g., a 5°C change in the temperature range for three consecutive days. This definition includes ‘short-term’ thermal discharges.
  2. A long-term, chronic change in temperature; e.g. a 2°C change in the temperature range for a year. This definition includes ‘long term’ thermal discharges.

For intertidal species or communities, the range of temperatures includes the air temperature regime for that species or community. Further details

Evidence

Short term acute periods of extreme cold and icing conditions are likely to cause stress and some mortality in bivalve populations (Dame, 1996). During the extreme cold winter of 1962/1963 sea water temperatures near Helgoland (North Sea) fell to an abnormal low of -1.5 °C. Most invertebrates present suffered high mortalities except for Nucula nitidosa. A decrease in temperature may slow down the growth of Nucula nitidosa. Therefore it is likely that Nucula nitidosa would survive a decrease in temperature, but the viability of the population may be reduced. Hence, intolerance has been assessed as low with a very high recoverability.

Low Very high Very Low Moderate
Increase in turbidity [Show more]

Increase in turbidity

  1. A short-term, acute change; e.g., two categories of the water clarity scale (see glossary) for one month, such as from medium to extreme turbidity.
  2. A long-term, chronic change; e.g., one category of the water clarity scale (see glossary) for one year, such as from low to medium turbidity. Further details

Evidence

The light attenuating effects on primary productivity resulting from an increase in turbidity are unlikely to directly affect Nucula nitidosa which is dependent on organic matter for its productivity. Davis & Wilson (1983b) reported that the high levels of particulate matter in the water column suggested that turbidity was unlikely to be a factor that limited the distribution of Nucula nitidosa (Davis & Wilson, 1983b). In addition, Nucula nitidosa lives within the sediment. Therefore, this factor is not relevant.

Not relevant Not relevant Not relevant Moderate
Decrease in turbidity [Show more]

Decrease in turbidity

  1. A short-term, acute change; e.g., two categories of the water clarity scale (see glossary) for one month, such as from medium to extreme turbidity.
  2. A long-term, chronic change; e.g., one category of the water clarity scale (see glossary) for one year, such as from low to medium turbidity. Further details

Evidence

This factor is considered not relevant (see above).

Not relevant Not relevant Not relevant Moderate
Increase in wave exposure [Show more]

Increase in wave exposure

A change of two ranks on the wave exposure scale (view glossary) e.g., from Exposed to Extremely exposed for a period of one year. Further details

Evidence

Nucula nitidosa prefers depths less than 50 m in areas of wave action ranging from sheltered to very sheltered. Increased wave exposure will cause the sediment on the seabed to erode. The sediments and the species within, such as Nucula nitidosa, may then be transported to another area (bedload transport) reducing numbers of the population of present in an area. The dispersion and settlement of juvenile Nucula nitidosa may also be disrupted. Therefore, intolerance has been assessed as intermediate with a high recoverability.

Intermediate Moderate Moderate Low
Decrease in wave exposure [Show more]

Decrease in wave exposure

A change of two ranks on the wave exposure scale (view glossary) e.g., from Exposed to Extremely exposed for a period of one year. Further details

Evidence

Changes in wave exposure are likely to have marked effects on the sediment dynamics. If the wave exposure is decreased, sediments that are deposited will slowly consolidate becoming more fine and muddy. Decreased exposure could also increase siltation and the risk of smothering. Nucula nitidosa is specialised for its preferred habitat of muddy and fine sand, however a decrease in wave exposure over the benchmark period of 1 year may cause the substrata to become too muddy for Nucula nitidosa. Therefore, intolerance has been assessed as intermediate with a high recoverability.

Intermediate High Low Low
Noise [Show more]

Noise

  1. Underwater noise levels e.g., the regular passing of a 30-metre trawler at 100 metres or a working cutter-suction transfer dredge at 100 metres for one month during important feeding or breeding periods.
  2. Atmospheric noise levels e.g., the regular passing of a Boeing 737 passenger jet 300 metres overhead for one month during important feeding or breeding periods. Further details

Evidence

No information was found concerning the intolerance levels of Nucula nitidosa to noise. This species is not expected to be sensitive at the level of the benchmark.

No information Not relevant No information Not relevant
Visual presence [Show more]

Visual presence

Benchmark. The continuous presence for one month of moving objects not naturally found in the marine environment (e.g., boats, machinery, and humans) within the visual envelope of the species or community under consideration. Further details

Evidence

Nucula nitidosa probable has little visual acuity and was recorded to be not sensitive to this factor.

No information Not relevant No information Not relevant
Abrasion & physical disturbance [Show more]

Abrasion & physical disturbance

Benchmark. Force equivalent to a standard scallop dredge landing on or being dragged across the organism. A single event is assumed for assessment. This factor includes mechanical interference, crushing, physical blows against, or rubbing and erosion of the organism or habitat of interest. Where trampling is relevant, the evidence and trampling intensity will be reported in the rationale. Further details.

Evidence

Fishing for demersal species will disturb the surface layer of sediment and any protruding or shallow burrowing species. Even though Nucula nitidosa has a small thick shell, it is probably vulnerable to physical damage from e.g. otter boards (Rumohr & Krost, 1991) but its small size relative to the meshes of commercial trawls may ensure survival of at least a moderate proportion of disturbed individuals that pass through the nets. The effects of trawl disturbance on a benthic community was investigated with a manipulative field experiment in a fine muddy habitat that had been closed to fishing for twenty five years (Tuck et al., 1998). A decline in the population density of Nucula nitidosa was reported after 5 months of trawling disturbance, which remained significantly lower than the reference control area after 10 months (Tuck et al., 1998). Therefore intolerance has been assessed as intermediate as mortality may occur, and recoverability has been assessed as high.

Intermediate High Low Low
Displacement [Show more]

Displacement

Benchmark. Removal of the organism from the substratum and displacement from its original position onto a suitable substratum. A single event is assumed for assessment. Further details

Evidence

Nucula nitidosa has a small solid shell. Fishing for demersal species will disturb the surface layer of sediment and any protruding or shallow burrowing species. Nucula nitidosa has the ability to reburrow back down into the sediment when it is displaced to the surface therefore, it is probably relatively tolerant of displacement. However, when displaced the risk of predation by predators is increased which may lead to some mortalities of Nucula nitidosa. Storms or increased wave action may cause whole populations to be lifted along with the substrata and transported to a different area where they will settle. Sediment bed load transport can occur when wave action is increased causing large coarse muddy / sandy grains to roll, hop or saltate along the bottom as bedload (Snelgrove et al., 1994). Therefore, an intolerance of low has been recorded with a high recoverability assessment.

Low High Low Low

Chemical pressures

Use [show more] / [show less] to open/close text displayed

 IntoleranceRecoverabilitySensitivityEvidence / Confidence
Synthetic compound contamination [Show more]

Synthetic compound contamination

Sensitivity is assessed against the available evidence for the effects of contaminants on the species (or closely related species at low confidence) or community of interest. For example:

  • evidence of mass mortality of a population of the species or community of interest (either short or long term) in response to a contaminant will be ranked as high sensitivity;
  • evidence of reduced abundance, or extent of a population of the species or community of interest (either short or long term) in response to a contaminant will be ranked as intermediate sensitivity;
  • evidence of sub-lethal effects or reduced reproductive potential of a population of the species or community of interest will be assessed as low sensitivity.

The evidence used is stated in the rationale. Where the assessment can be based on a known activity then this is stated. The tolerance to contaminants of species of interest will be included in the rationale when available; together with relevant supporting material. Further details.

Evidence

Synthetic chemicals, including tributyl-tin (TBT) have been shown to have detrimental effects in a variety of bivalve species (for examples see reviews of Abra alba, Macoma balthica, Mytilus edulis, Cerastoderma edule, Ostrea edulis and Mya arenaria. However, no specific information was found concerning the effect of synthetic chemicals on Nucula nitidosa, therefore intolerance and recoverability assessments could not be given.

No information Not relevant No information Low
Heavy metal contamination [Show more]

Heavy metal contamination

Evidence

The capacity of bivalves to accumulate heavy metals in their tissues, far in excess of environmental levels, is well known. For example:

  • Bryan (1984) states that Hg is the most toxic metal to bivalve molluscs while Cu, Cd and Zn seem to be most 'problematic' in the field; and
  • reactions to sub-lethal levels of heavy metals include siphon retraction, valve closure, inhibition of byssal thread production, disruption of burrowing behaviour, inhibition of respiration, inhibition of filtration rate, inhibition of protein synthesis and suppressed growth (see review by Aberkali & Trueman, 1985).

However, no information specifically concerning the effects of heavy metal contamination on Nucula nitidosa was found therefore intolerance and recoverability could not be assessed.

No information Not relevant No information Low
Hydrocarbon contamination [Show more]

Hydrocarbon contamination

Evidence

Nucula nitidosa may not come into direct contact with spilt oil but may be exposed to the water soluble components of oils, and oils adsorbed onto particulates. Suchanek (1993) reviewed the effects of oil on invertebrates. Information on the effects of oils and hydrocarbons on bivalves is included in reviews of Abra alba, Macoma balthica, Mytilus edulis, Cerastoderma edule, Ostrea edulis and Mya arenaria. However, no information concerning the effects of hydrocarbons specifically on Nucula nitidosa was found. Therefore intolerance cannot be assessed.

No information Not relevant No information Low
Radionuclide contamination [Show more]

Radionuclide contamination

Evidence

No specific information was found concerning the effects of radionuclides on Nucula nitidosa.

No information Not relevant No information Not relevant
Changes in nutrient levels [Show more]

Changes in nutrient levels

Evidence

Nucula nitidosa are considered to be indicators of organic enrichment (Walker & Rees, 1980). Nucula nitidosa was abundant in an area north of the Elbe estuary where colonization by other macrofauna was impaired due to the sewage sludge from Hamburg being regularly deposited in the estuary (Rachor, 1976). High densities of Nucula nitidosa were also recorded in Howth Harbour (Ireland) in an area that was subject to sewage sludge dumping (Davis & Wilson, 1983b). Therefore Nucula nitidosa has been assessed as tolerant*.

Tolerant* Not relevant Not sensitive* Moderate
Increase in salinity [Show more]

Increase in salinity

  1. A short-term, acute change; e.g., a change of two categories from the MNCR salinity scale for one week (view glossary) such as from full to reduced.
  2. A long-term, chronic change; e.g., a change of one category from the MNCR salinity scale for one year (view glossary) such as from reduced to low. Further details.

Evidence

Nucula nitidosa is found in waters at full salinity. Therefore this factor is not relevant. However, no information concerning the effects of hypersaline conditions was found.

No information Not relevant No information Not relevant
Decrease in salinity [Show more]

Decrease in salinity

  1. A short-term, acute change; e.g., a change of two categories from the MNCR salinity scale for one week (view glossary) such as from full to reduced.
  2. A long-term, chronic change; e.g., a change of one category from the MNCR salinity scale for one year (view glossary) such as from reduced to low. Further details.

Evidence

Nucula nitidosa is found in waters at full salinity. Ranchor (1976) successfully reared specimens in the laboratory at a salinity of 27 to 32 ppt. However, very little information on salinity tolerance was found. It is possible that a decrease in salinity may cause mortalities. Therefore, intolerance has been assessed as intermediate with a high recoverability at the benchmark level.

Intermediate High Low Low
Changes in oxygenation [Show more]

Changes in oxygenation

Benchmark.  Exposure to a dissolved oxygen concentration of 2 mg/l for one week. Further details.

Evidence

Wilson & Davis (1984) suggested that Nucula nitidosa showed the greatest limitation in the protobranch gill and in its inability to regulate oxygen to any great extent in response to hypoxic conditions. Holmes et al. (2002) stated that all the literature with regards to the susceptibility of Nucula nitidosa to hypoxia are anecdotal in nature. For example:

  • Trevallion (1965: cited in Wilson & Davis, 1984) showed that Nucula nitidosa has the ability to survive up to 72 hours under anoxic conditions, and
  • Ranchor (1976) reported that Nucula nitidosa will withstand oxygen deficiency and reducing conditions in the sediment and will survive 7 days of anaerobic conditions (Ranchor, 1976), whereas
  • Holmes et al.(2002) reported that Nucula nitidosa had a mean survival time of 3.53 days and suffered 100% mortality after 10 days under hypoxic conditions at 1.38 ml O2/l (1.93 mg O2/l).

A long term decline of populations of Nucula nitidosa in the German Bight was attributed to an increased frequency of hypoxic events (Diaz & Rosenberg, 1995; Holmes et al., 2002). Therefore, a decrease in oxygen concentration at the benchmark level is likely to result in some mortality, and an intolerance of intermediate has been recorded. Recoverability is likely to be high.

Intermediate High Low High

Biological pressures

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 IntoleranceRecoverabilitySensitivityEvidence / Confidence
Introduction of microbial pathogens/parasites [Show more]

Introduction of microbial pathogens/parasites

Benchmark. Sensitivity can only be assessed relative to a known, named disease, likely to cause partial loss of a species population or community. Further details.

Evidence

A number of parasites have been found in Nucula nitidosa.

  • Nucula nitidosa is the sole intermediate host for the trematode Steringotrema pagelli. About 2% of Nucula nitidosa from western Kattegat were found to be infected (Køie, 1980). The gonad of the infected host is completely destroyed. Trematodes can reduce growth and fecundity within bivalves and in some instances may cause death (Dame, 1996).
  • Monascus (Haplocladus) filiformis has its larval stage in Nucula nitidosa. The furcocercous cercariae, which occur in thick walled red brown sporocysts in the digestive gland and gonads, are unusually large measuring on average 970 X 340 µm. Køie, (1979) recorded these cercariae in 30% of about 200 Nucula nitidosa also from Kattegat.

Parasitic infections are likely to result in sub lethal effects but an intolerance of intermediate has been recorded to reflect the castrations in some individuals. Recoverability has been assessed as high.

Intermediate High Low Moderate
Introduction of non-native species [Show more]

Introduction of non-native species

Sensitivity assessed against the likely effect of the introduction of alien or non-native species in Britain or Ireland. Further details.

Evidence

No information regarding the effects of non- native species on Nucula nitidosa could be found therefore an intolerance assessment could not be made.

No information Not relevant No information Low
Extraction of this species [Show more]

Extraction of this species

Benchmark. Extraction removes 50% of the species or community from the area under consideration. Sensitivity will be assessed as 'intermediate'. The habitat remains intact or recovers rapidly. Any effects of the extraction process on the habitat itself are addressed under other factors, e.g. displacement, abrasion and physical disturbance, and substratum loss. Further details.

Evidence

Nucula nitidosa are not targeted for extraction. Therefore, an intolerance assessment is not relevant.

Not relevant Not relevant Not relevant Not relevant
Extraction of other species [Show more]

Extraction of other species

Benchmark. A species that is a required host or prey for the species under consideration (and assuming that no alternative host exists) or a keystone species in a biotope is removed. Any effects of the extraction process on the habitat itself are addressed under other factors, e.g. displacement, abrasion and physical disturbance, and substratum loss. Further details.

Evidence

The effects of trawl disturbance on a benthic community was investigated with a manipulative field experiment in a fine muddy habitat that had been closed to fishing for twenty five years (Tuck et al., 1998). A decline in the population density of Nucula nitidosa was reported after 5 months of trawling disturbance and remained significantly lower than the reference control areas after 10 months (Tuck et al., 1998).
In areas of high population density it appears that trawling would be unlikely to remove a whole population, therefore intolerance has been assessed as intermediate with a high recovery level.

 

Intermediate High Low Moderate

Additional information

Recoverability. The lifespan of Nucula nitidosa ranges from 7-10 years (Wilson, 1992). It takes 2-3 years for Nucula nitidosa to reach sexual maturity (Davis & Wilson, 1983b). Nucula nitidosa reproduce in high numbers. Once hatched Nucula nitidosa larvae spend a short time in the water column (a few days), which reduces the risk of predation. However, juveniles do not have a high dispersal potential as they settle in the vicinity of the adults (Thorson, 1946).

Populations of Nucula nitidosa appear stable and were reported to fluctuate little from year to year (Thorson, 1946). Rachor (1976) reported that the mortality rate of Nucula nitidosa was very uncertain. Populations of Nucula nitidosa can increase markedly when the bottom sediments are suitable and decrease when the older age classes die. For instance, in Dublin Bay, low larval and adult mortality rates of Nucula nitidosa were reported for several years, which was followed by high mortality when adults reached old age (Davis & Wilson, 1983b). Nucula nitidosa is also known to inhabit unstable substrates and populations can reach high densities (Creutzberg, 1986).

Overall, Nucula nitidosa is likely to exhibit good local, within population recruitment. Therefore, if the extent of abundance of a population is reduced, recovery is likely to be rapid. However, long-distance dispersal is potentially poor. If a population is removed from an area, it may take a long time for the area to be recolonized, depending on the local hydrography.

Importance review

Policy/legislation

- no data -

Status

Non-native

ParameterData
Native-
Origin-
Date Arrived-

Importance information

Food source. Specimens of Nucula were classified as a second class food for plaice (Pleuronectes platessa) (Blegvad, 1928; cited in Rachor, 1976). Nucula nitidosa was found in the stomach contents of dab Limanda limanda (Kühl, 1963; cited in Rachor, 1976).

Bibliography

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  8. Davis, J.P. & Wilson, J.G., 1983a. Seasonal changes in the tissue weight and biochemical composition of the bivalve Nucula turgida in Dublin Bay with reference to gametogenesis. Netherlands Journal of Sea Research, 17, 84-95.

  9. Davis, J.P. & Wilson, J.G., 1983b. The population structure and ecology of Nucula turgida (Leckenby & Marshall) in Dublin Bay. Progress in Underwater Science, 8, 53-60.

  10. Davis, J.P. & Wilson, J.G., 1985. The energy budget and population structure of Nucula turgida in Dublin Bay. Journal of Animal Ecology, 54, 557-571.

  11. Diaz, R.J. & Rosenberg, R., 1995. Marine benthic hypoxia: a review of its ecological effects and the behavioural responses of benthic macrofauna. Oceanography and Marine Biology: an Annual Review, 33, 245-303.

  12. Edwards, C., 1965. The hydroid and the medusa of Neoturris pileata. Journal of the Marine Biological Association of the United Kingdom, 45, 443-468.

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  14. Hayward, P.J. & Ryland, J.S. (ed.) 1995b. Handbook of the marine fauna of North-West Europe. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

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  16. Holmes, S.P., Miller, N. & Weber, A., 2002. The respiration and hypoxic tolerance of Nucula nitidosa and Nucula nucleus: factors responsible for determining their distribution? Journal of the Marine Biological Association of the United Kingdom, 82, 971-981.

  17. Howson, C.M. & Picton, B.E., 1997. The species directory of the marine fauna and flora of the British Isles and surrounding seas. Belfast: Ulster Museum. [Ulster Museum publication, no. 276.]

  18. Køie, M., 1979. On the morphology and life history of Monascus (=Haplocladus) filiformis (Rudolphi, 1819) Looss, 1907, and Steringophorus furciger (Olsson, 1868) Odhner, 1905 (Trematoda, Fellodistomidae). Ophelia, 18, 113-132.

  19. Køie, M., 1980. On the morphology and life history of Steringotrema pagelli (van Beneden, 1871) Odhner, 1911 and Fellodistomum fellis (Olsson, 1868), Nicoll, 1909 [syn. S.ovacutum (Lebour, 1908) Yamaguti, 1953] (Trematoda, Fellodistomidae). Ophelia, 19, 215-236.

  20. Lebour, M.V., 1938. Notes on the breeding of some lamellibranchs from Plymouth and their larvae. Journal of the Marine Biological Association of the United Kingdom, 23, 119-144.

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Datasets

  1. Bristol Regional Environmental Records Centre, 2017. BRERC species records recorded over 15 years ago. Occurrence dataset: https://doi.org/10.15468/h1ln5p accessed via GBIF.org on 2018-09-25.

  2. Centre for Environmental Data and Recording, 2018. Ulster Museum Marine Surveys of Northern Ireland Coastal Waters. Occurrence dataset https://www.nmni.com/CEDaR/CEDaR-Centre-for-Environmental-Data-and-Recording.aspx accessed via NBNAtlas.org on 2018-09-25.

  3. Conchological Society of Great Britain & Ireland, 2018. Mollusc (marine) data for Great Britain and Ireland - restricted access. Occurrence dataset: https://doi.org/10.15468/4bsawx accessed via GBIF.org on 2018-09-25.

  4. Conchological Society of Great Britain & Ireland, 2018. Mollusc (marine) records for Great Britain and Ireland. Occurrence dataset: https://doi.org/10.15468/aurwcz accessed via GBIF.org on 2018-09-25.

  5. Environmental Records Information Centre North East, 2018. ERIC NE Combined dataset to 2017. Occurrence dataset: http://www.ericnortheast.org.ukl accessed via NBNAtlas.org on 2018-09-38

  6. Merseyside BioBank., 2018. Merseyside BioBank (unverified). Occurrence dataset: https://doi.org/10.15468/iou2ld accessed via GBIF.org on 2018-10-01.

  7. NBN (National Biodiversity Network) Atlas. Available from: https://www.nbnatlas.org.

  8. OBIS (Ocean Biodiversity Information System),  2024. Global map of species distribution using gridded data. Available from: Ocean Biogeographic Information System. www.iobis.org. Accessed: 2024-02-23

  9. South East Wales Biodiversity Records Centre, 2018. SEWBReC Molluscs (South East Wales). Occurrence dataset: https://doi.org/10.15468/jos5ga accessed via GBIF.org on 2018-10-02.

Citation

This review can be cited as:

Sabatini, M. & Ballerstedt, S. 2008. Nucula nitidosa Shiny nut clam. In Tyler-Walters H. Marine Life Information Network: Biology and Sensitivity Key Information Reviews, [on-line]. Plymouth: Marine Biological Association of the United Kingdom. [cited 23-02-2024]. Available from: https://www.marlin.ac.uk/species/detail/1700

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Last Updated: 17/04/2008