Consorts of gastropod Rapana venosa (Valenciennes, 1846) in the Northern Black Sea. Part I: Porifera, Cnidaria, Bryozoa, Chordata

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Bondarev I. P., Revkov N. K. Consorts of gastropod Rapana venosa (Valenciennes, 1846) in the Northern Black Sea. Part I: Porifera, Cnidaria, Bryozoa, Chordata. Marine Biological Journal, 2017, vol. 2, no. 2, pp. 20-33.

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Gastropod mollusk-invader Rapana venosa (Valenciennes, 1846) in the 1940s took a free ecological niche terminal predator in benthic communities of the Black Sea shelf and has become an important element of the ecosystem. The ability of rapa whelk to have a devastating impact on the biocenosis filter feeders determines the necessity of constant monitoring of this species populations’ state. The study of rapa whelk showed that the ecological role of this species is not limited to predation. Fairly large shell R. venosa is a solid substrate for alga, attached and restrictedly movable (sedentary) benthic animal organisms, among which mobile free-living forms sometimes find shelter. The aim of the work is to describe specific complex of epibiotic organisms formed on rapa-whelk shells, which is regarded as a consortium, where of R. venosa is the core. To study the consort community of R. venosa a sampling was made in 7 regions of the northern part of the Black Sea: 1 – Mamaia beach, Romania, 2 – the north-western part of the Black Sea (NWBS), Crimean sector, 3 – Sevastopol, 4 – Alupka, 5 – Yalta – Alushta, 6 – Karadag, 7 – the Kerch Strait. The sampling in the coastal zone (less then 15 m depth) was carried out by SCUBA and snorkel diving, deeper (up to 40 m) was used “Ocean-50”grab corer was used. Totally of 856 specimens of R. venosa were collected and analyzed. The main bulk of the material in the amount of 750 specimens of R. venosa was sampled in the coastal zone in Sevastopol vicinity (south-western Crimea) at the depth range of 1.5–10.0 m. The collection of the rapa whelk specimens was carried out totally and each specimen was placed in a separate plastic bag indicating the collection area, depth and biotope. Along with the mollusks sampling, visual observations and photographic fixation of hydrobionts in situ were carried out. Based on the research results the taxonomic list of rapa whelk epibiotic organisms was extended and for the first time the taxonomic composition of the mobile forms permanently or temporarily present in the R. venosa consortium was given. The first part of the investigation provides a list of rapa whelk epibionts taxa relating to four (Porifera, Cnidaria, Bryozoa, Chordata) of the seven detected Phyla with indication of sampling depths and bottom type and comments on the frequency of occurrence, the quantity and of their interaction with the consortium core. Phylum Porifera is represented by 1, Bryozoa – 3 Cnidaria – 2 and Chordata – 4 species. The drilling sponge Pione vastifica was found in all the investigated areas, except region 2 (NWBS), with a frequency of 20 to 90 % and the shell surface area damage was up to 100 % (average 30–35 %). Not numerous representatives of Cnidaria were found singly in the region 3 (Actinia equina) and in the region 5 (Diadumene lineata). Bryozoans are the most common group of animal-consorts of rapa whelk present in all the areas of our research. The frequency of their occurrence ranged from 10 to 100 %, the covering area of the shell surface was from 0 to 85 %. More than 90 % of the total surface area of rapana shell cover with bryozoans and their occurrence is in Cryptosula pallasiana. The second bryozoans’ species on development indices is Conopeum seurati, which was found in areas 3, 6 and 7, where the occurrence was up to 30 % and the coverage was up to 25 %. The other 3 species of bryozoans (Schizomavella auriculata, Bowerbankia imbricata, Hippothoa sp.) were found rarely. Representatives of Chordata – 2 species of ascidians (Botryllus schlosseri, Ciona intestinalis) and 3 species of fish (Diplecogaster bimaculata, Parablennius tentacularis, Scorpaena porcus) were recorded singly in regions 2, 3, 5. For the four Phyla of animal organisms considered the consorts list of R. venosa of the sandy bottom biotopes (10 species) is twice more numerous than that of the rocky eco-form (5 species). The organisms studied are of a different degree and nature of relations with the core consortium from commensalism to parasitism. Generalized information on periphyton and total coverage of rapa whelk shells with epibiotic complex is given. The results of the work show that in the Black Sea R. venosa has become an important element of the ecosystem, increasing biological diversity of the bottom fauna due to the formation of its own consortium complexes of epibiontic organisms.


I. P. Bondarev

N. K. Revkov


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