Skip to main content Accessibility help

Reproductive Failure in Populations of the Dog-Whelk, Nucella Lapillus, Caused by Imposex Induced by Tributyltin from Antifouling Paints

  • P. E. Gibbs (a1) and G. W. Bryan (a1)

The development of male characters, notably a penis and a vas deferens, on the female (the phenomenon of ‘imposex’) of the dog-whelk, Nucella lapillus, is described. Three stages are recognized: an ‘early’ stage involving the formation of a vas deferens and a small penis, an ‘intermediate’ stage characterized by the enlargement of the female penis to a size approaching that of the male and a ‘late’ stage during which the female opening (vulva) is occluded by overgrowth of vas deferens tissue. This blockage of the pallial oviduct prevents the release of egg capsules and renders the female sterile. The extent and cause of such reproductive failure is evident from the high incidence of females containing aborted capsules in declining populations close to sources of tributyltin (TBT) contamination. These same populations comprise fewer females than expected and it would appear that the accumulation of aborted capsules within the pallial oviduct eventually causes the premature death of the female.

Hide All
Blaber, S. J. M., 1970. The occurrence of a penis-like outgrowth behind the right tentacle in spent females of Nucella lapillus (L.). Proceedings of the Malacological Society of London, 39,231233.
Bryan, G. W., Gibbs, P. E., Hummerstone, L. G. & Burt, G. R., 1986. The decline of the gastropod Nucella lapillus around south-west England: evidence for the effect of tributyltin from antifouling paints. Journal of the Marine Biological Association of the United Kingdom, 66, 611640.
Crothers, J. H., 1985. Dog-whelks: an introduction to the biology of Nucella lapillus (L.). Field Studies, 6, 291360.
Feare, C. J., 1970. Aspects of the ecology of an exposed shore population of dogwhelks Nucella lapillus (L.). Oecologia, 5, 118.
Fretter, V., 1941. The genital ducts of some British stenoglossan prosobranchs. Journal of the Marine Biological Association of the United Kingdom, 25, 173211.
Fretter, V. & Graham, A., 1962. British Prosobranch Molluscs. London: Ray Society.
Lauckner, G., 1983. Diseases of Mollusca: Bivalvia. In Diseases of Marine Animals (ed. O., Kinne), pp. 477961. Hamburg: Biologische Anstalt Helgoland.
Pechenik, J. A., Chang, S. C. & Lord, A., 1984. Encapsulated development of the marine prosobranch gastropod Nucella lapillus. Marine Biology, 78, 223229.
Smith, B. S., 1980. The estuarine mud snail, Nassarius obsoletus: abnormalities in the reproductive system. Journal of Molluscan Studies, 46, 247256.
Smith, B. S., 1981 a. Male characteristics on female mud snails caused by antifouling bottom paints. Journal of Applied Toxicology, 1, 2225.
Smith, B. S., 1981 b. Tributyltin compounds induce male characteristics on female mud snails Nassarius obsoletus =Ilyanassa obsoleta. Journal of Applied Toxicology, 1, 141144.
Recommend this journal

Email your librarian or administrator to recommend adding this journal to your organisation's collection.

Journal of the Marine Biological Association of the United Kingdom
  • ISSN: 0025-3154
  • EISSN: 1469-7769
  • URL: /core/journals/journal-of-the-marine-biological-association-of-the-united-kingdom
Please enter your name
Please enter a valid email address
Who would you like to send this to? *


Altmetric attention score

Full text views

Total number of HTML views: 0
Total number of PDF views: 0 *
Loading metrics...

Abstract views

Total abstract views: 0 *
Loading metrics...

* Views captured on Cambridge Core between <date>. This data will be updated every 24 hours.

Usage data cannot currently be displayed