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Morphology and Ontogeny of Statoliths in the Grooved Carpet Shell, Ruditapes decussatus

  • Susana Galante-Oliveira (a1), António Pereira (a2), Tiago Baptista (a2), Fernanda Guimarães (a3), Jorge Soares (a4), José Carlos Lopes (a4), Jorge Machado (a5) and Carlos Barroso (a1)...


Statoliths are nonskeletal calcified structures included in most invertebrates’ gravireceptors. They have been identified and characterized in several gastropod and cephalopod molluscs and have proved to be very useful for age estimation, growth studies, and connectivity analysis, among other applications. Beyond the scarce available records on their occurrence in Class Bivalvia, statoliths are yet to be documented in the grooved carpet shell, Ruditapes decussatus, a species of high ecological and commercial value. An easy method for the extraction and processing of R. decussatus statoliths is described herein. The statolith growth was followed from the initial shell length (SL) of 2.5–3.5 mm (seed commercial size T1.5) for a period of 6 months in a nursery facility located in the Ria de Aveiro (an estuarine system in NW Portugal). The relationship between statolith diameter (StD) and SL follows the function StD=14.305 SL0.254 (N=173; r=0.855, p<0.001). All statoliths observed showed similar morphostructure and general chemistry: hard, translucent spheres of crystalline calcium oxalate (whewellite), with a central nucleus delimited by a growth check of 6.7±1.0 µm in diameter, possibly as a result of growth arrest during metamorphosis, a metamorphic ring, as described for their gastropod counterparts. Subsequent studies should validate this and will involve a search for the occurrence of additional checks that may potentially be present in older specimens and if they are, would open a new range of most promising applications for bivalve statoliths.


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*Author for correspondence: Susana Galante-Oliveira, E-mail:


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Morphology and Ontogeny of Statoliths in the Grooved Carpet Shell, Ruditapes decussatus

  • Susana Galante-Oliveira (a1), António Pereira (a2), Tiago Baptista (a2), Fernanda Guimarães (a3), Jorge Soares (a4), José Carlos Lopes (a4), Jorge Machado (a5) and Carlos Barroso (a1)...


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