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Original scientific paper

Inshore/offshore gradients of imposex in Bolinus brandaris (Gastropoda: Muricidae) from the Gulf of Gabès (southern Tunisia, Central Mediterranean Sea)

Kamel ELHASNI ; Institut National des Sciences et Technologies de la Mer (INSTM),
Paulo VASCONCELOS ; Instituto Português do Mar e da Atmosfera (I.P./IPMA), Avenida 5 de Outubro s/n, P-8700-305 Olhão, Portugal Centro de Estudos do Ambiente e do Mar (CESAM), Departamento de Biologia, Universidade de Aveiro, Campus de Santiago, P-3810-193 Aveiro, PortugalCe
Mohamed GHORBEL ; Institut National des Sciences et Technologies de la Mer (INSTM),
Othman JARBOUI ; Institut National des Sciences et Technologies de la Mer (INSTM),


The present study provides the first data available on imposex in a gastropod species caught offshore the Tunisian coast. Imposex was analysed in the purple dye murex (Bolinus brandaris) from ten collecting sites offshore the Gulf of Gabès (southern Tunisia, Central Mediterranean Sea). From a total of 584 individuals analysed, females outnumbered males, leading to a female-biased sex ratio (1 F:0.7 M). Among the 353 females analysed, 117 were affected by imposex. On the whole, these females presented low to moderate imposex incidence (I%=33.1) and severity (FPLI=0.3, RPLI=2.6 and VDSI=0.8). The study revealed that imposex is a widespread phenomenon in the Gulf of Gabès and identified a clear inshore/offshore gradient in the imposex indices of B. brandaris. Regression analysis detected highly significant negative correlations between imposex indices and the distance to the coastline and depth of the collecting sites. Principal components analysis highlighted the specific influence of the distance to the major harbours, either in number of calling vessels (commercial harbour of Sfax) or shipping tonnage (oil terminal of Skhira). This inshore/offshore gradient of imposex development in B. brandaris reflects marked spatial variation in pollution by organotin compounds associated to the shipping activity. Overall, the study provides valuable baseline data for assessing the future evolution of imposex in B. brandaris, and subsequently the spatial and temporal trends of pollution by organotin compounds offshore the Gulf of Gabès.


Bolinus brandaris, imposex, pollution biomonitoring, inshore/offshore gradient, Gulf of Gabès, southern Tunisia

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