Abstract

Voluta musica is a dioecious marine gastropod endemic of the South Caribbean. Tributyltin (TBT) and copper (Cu) are potential inducers of imposex, an endocrine disorder by which females develop a penis and/or vas deferens. The goal of this work was to determine the imposex incidence in V. musica populations from Northeastern Península de Araya. For this, we selected three sites (Isla Caribe, Isla Lobos and Bajo Cuspe) and made monthly samplings of 15 snails in each site, during one year, and determined: (1) sizes; (2) sex and imposex incidence and (3) the Relative Penis Length Index (RPLI). We also performed histological analysis of the gonads, and measured TBT and Cu concentrations in sediments from the studied localities. Our results showed that the total number of sampled females affected by imposex was 24.5% at Isla Caribe, 12% at Isla Lobos, and none at Bajo Cuspe. In sediments, Cu was detected mostly in Isla Lobos. The female gonads with imposex did not show any development of male cells in any of the sampled sites. The higher percentage of females with imposex matched with the higher boat traffic locality, and higher TBT level (Isla Caribe). No esterilization was evident in this work, nevertheless, the presence of TBT and Cu in the sediments and females with imposex were considered as a potential threat to V. musica populations in this region. In Venezuela there is no control over this particular issue, possibly because of the lack of information and research in this topic, but certainly, this information will be useful in biodiversity conservation policies.

Keywords: Volutidae, histology, tributyltin, copper, antifouling, South Caribbean