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Overview

Brief Summary

Despite its name, the great shipworm is not a worm. It is a bivalve with incredibly small shells on an elongated, unprotected mollusc body. It lives together with bacteria that can digest wood. In that way, it is able to 'eat' wood while digging a protective tunnel at the same time. The wooden ships in the 17th century brought the animal to the Netherlands. In the 18th century, the animal created a huge disaster. It destroyed all the wooden piling used to protect the dikes. Nowadays, the great ship worm still forms a threat for the ship wrecks in the Wadden Sea.
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Teredo navalis is the most common species of shipworm, a family of bivalves whose shell consists solely of a helmet-like structure around the anterior end of the body, and which is used to bore into wood. Teredo navalis filter-feeds on passing diatoms but it can survive feeding on the surrounding wood if needed. Although it only lives for a couple of years, its ability to breed multiple times in a summer allows it to maintain large populations with far reaching distributions in the coastal waters of the Atlantic and Pacific. Their ability to compromise the wooden hulls of ships has made them a pest to humans for millenia.

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Comprehensive Description

The naval shipworm, Teredo navalis, is not a worm at all. It is a highly specialized bivalve mollusc adapted for boring into and living in submerged wood. The genus Teredo is one of several genera of wood-boring bivalve shipworms. Bankia and Lyrodus are two other genera of shipworm that can be found in the U.S. south Atlantic. Though it now exhibits a cosmopolitan distribution, T. navalis is a cryptogenic species in Florida and is believed to be non-native to North America (Carlton and Ruckelshaus 1997).The body of Teredo navalis is long and wormlike and reddish pale in color. Unlike most bivalves that rely on their shell for protection, T. navalis has a small (up to 2 cm long), helmet-like shell that encloses only a small portion of the animal. The shell modified for burrowing into wood. Fine ridges on the tri-lobed valves of the shell are used to rasp away wood. Instead of relying on the shell for protection, T. navalis protects its soft elongate body by residing in a secreted calcareous tube lining the excavated burrow. The tube is capped near the mouth of the burrow by a calcareous septum. An incurrent and excurrent siphon located at the anterior of the animal protrude through a small hole in the septum and into the water to facilitate feeding, respiration and excretion/egestion. The siphons can be rapidly contracted and protected underneath a pair of 0.5 cm long calcareous paddle-shaped pallets (NIMPIS 2002, Did?iulis 2007).
  • B?nsch R., and F. Gosselck 1994. Untersuchungen zum Befall der Buhnen durch Teredo navalis Linnaeus 1758 (Molusca: Bivalvia) an der Ostseek?ste Mecklenburg-Vorpommerns. Gutachten im Auftrag des Staatlichen Amtes Rostock, S. 1-16
  • Carlton J.T., and M.H. Ruckelshaus. 1997. Nonindigenous marine invertebrates and algae. Pp 187-201 in: Simberloff D., Schmitz D.C., and T.C. Brown (eds). Strangers in Paradise. Island Press, Washington, D.C. 467 p.
  • Coe W.R. 1941. Sexual phases in wood-boring mollusks. Biological Bulletin 81:168-176.
  • Cohen A.N. 2004. Invasions in the Sea. National Park Service ParkScience Magazine 22:37-41.
  • Cohen A.N., and J.T. Carlton. 1995. Nonindigenous aquatic species in a United States estuary: a case study of the biological Invasions of the San Francisco Bay and Delta. A Report for the United States Fish and Wildlife Service, Washington D.C. and the National Sea Grant College Program, Connecticut Sea Grant.
  • Costello D.P., and C. Henley 1971. Methods for obtaining and handling marine eggs and embryos. Marine Biological Laboratory, Woods Hole, MA (Second Edition).
  • Did?iulis V. 2007. NOBANIS Invasive Alien Species Fact Sheet - Teredo navalis In: Online Database of the North European and Baltic Network on Invasive Alien Species. Available online.
  • Distel D.L., Beaudoin D., and W. Morrill. 2002. Coexistence of multiple proteobacterial endosymbionts in the gills of the wood-boring bivalve Lyrodus pedicellatus (Bivalvia: Teredinidae). Applied Environmental Microbiology 68:6292-6299.
  • Distel D.L., DeLong, E.F., and J.B. Waterbury. 1991. Phylogenetic characterization and in situ localization of the bacterial symbiont of shipworms (Teredinidae: Bivalvia) by using 16S rRNA sequence analysis and oligodeoxynucleotide probe hybridization. Applied Environmental Microbiology 57:2376-2382.
  • Forbes E., and R.A.C. Godwin-Austen. 1959. The Natural History of the European Seas. 1977 reprint, Arno Press, NY. 306 p.
  • Gallager S.M., Turner, R.D., and C.J. Berg. 1981. Physiological aspects of wood consumption, growth, and reproduction in the shipworm Lyrodus pedicellatus Quatrefages. Journal of Experimental Marine Biology and Ecology 52:63-77.
  • Grave B.H. 1928. Natural history of shipworm, Teredo navalis, at Woods Hole, Massachusetts, Biological Bulletin 55:260-282.
  • Grave B.H. 1942. The sexual cycle of the shipworm, Teredo navalis. Biological Bulletin 82:438-445.
  • Lane C.E. 1959. Some aspects of the general biology of Teredo. pp. 137-144 in: Ray D.L. (Ed.) Marine Boring and Fouling Organisms. University of Washington Press, Seatle, WA. 534 p.
  • Mann R., and S.M. Gallager. 1985. Growth, morphometry and biochemical composition of the wood boring molluscs Teredo navalis L., Bankia gouldi (Bartsch), and Nototeredo knoxi (Bartsch) (Bivalvia: Teredinidae). Journal of Experimental Marine Biology and Ecology 85:229-251.
  • NIMPIS. 2002. Teredo navalis species summary. CSIRO National Introduced Marine Pest Information System (Hewitt C.L., Martin R.B., Sliwa C., McEnnulty, F.R., Murphy, N.E., Jones T. and S. Cooper Eds). Available online.
  • Popham J.D., and M.R. Dikson. 1973. Bacterial associations in the teredo Bankia australis (Lamellibranchia: Molusca). Marine Biology 19:338-340.
  • Reise K., Gollasch S., and W.J. Wolff. 1999. Introduced marine species of the North Sea coasts., Helgol?nder Meeresuntersuchungen 52:219-234.
  • Richards B.R., R.E. Hillman, and N.J. Maciolek. 1984. Shipworms, Pp. 201-225 in: Kennish M.J., and R.A. Lutz (Eds.). Lecture Notes on Coastal and Estuarine Studies - Ecology of Barnegat Bay, New Jersey. Springer-Verlag. New York. 396 p.
  • Rowley S.J., 2005. Teredo navalis. Great shipworm. Marine Life Information Network: Biology and Sensitivity Key Information Sub-programme. Plymouth: Marine Biological Association of the United Kingdom. Available online.
  • Scheltema R.S., and R.V. Truitt. 1954. Ecological factors related to the distribution of Bankia gouldi Bartsch in Chesapeake Bay, Chesapeake Biological Laboratory Publication 100:1-31.
  • Tuente U., Piepenburg D., and M. Spindler. 2002. Occurrence and settlement of the common shipworm Teredo navalis (Bivalvia: Teredinidae) in Bremerhaven harbours, northern Germany. Helgoland Marine Research. Vol. 56:87-94.
  • Turner R.D. 1966. A survey and illustrated catalogue of the Teredinidae (Mollusca: Bivalvia). The Museum of Comparative Zoology, Harvard University, Cambridge. 265 p.
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Description

 Teredo navalis is a bivalve mollusc but appears worm-like due to its elongated body and reduced trilobed shell, which is specialised for wood boring. The shell is white in colour with its outer most layer (periostracum) light brown. The shell can be up to 2cm long and covers only the anterior end of the long, soft body. The valves of the shell are divided into different regions with various sculptures. The beaks are situated near the anterior end of the shell. The soft worm-like body is light brown in colour and up to 15 cm in length. It lies in a calcareous tube up to 60 cm long and 0.8 cm in diameter. The thin tube has a septa (dividing wall) near the opening. There are two small siphons at the posterior end of the body that are withdrawn and closed off by a calcareous pair of paddle shaped accessory plates (pallets), each off white in colour and up to 0.5 cm long.The trilobed, heavily ridged shells halves of Teredo navalis are used to drill through wood forming characteristic, winding burrows that are lined with chalky deposits. These burrows can be seen when the wood is split apart. The small holes can be up to 1 cm in diameter.
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Distribution

The origins of Teredo navalis are unknown. Appropriately referred to as naval shipworms, T. navalis are molluscs that frequently dwell in the wood of ships. Due to the prominent use of ships in global trade and the consequent dispersal of the shipworms, the origins of T. navalis are uncertain. Masses of naval shipworms were first identified near the Netherlands in the North Sea. They are common to the Baltic Sea as well as the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans today.

Biogeographic Regions: nearctic (Introduced ); palearctic (Introduced ); oriental (Introduced ); ethiopian (Introduced ); neotropical (Introduced ); australian (Introduced ); atlantic ocean (Introduced ); pacific ocean (Introduced )

  • Didziulis, V. 2007. "NOBANIS-invasive alien species fact sheet, Teredo navalis" (On-line pdf). NOBANIS-European network on invasive alien species. Accessed June 01, 2011 at http://www.nobanis.org/files/factsheets/Teredo_navalis.pdf.
  • Gollasch, S., D. Haydar, D. Minchin, W. Wolff, K. Reise. 2009. Introduced aquatic species of the North Sea coasts and adjacent brackish waters. Pp. 507-528 in G Rilov, J Crooks, eds. Biological Invasions in Marine Ecosystems, Vol. 204. Germany: Springer.
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Widespread around the world
  • Hayward, P.J.; Ryland, J.S. (Ed.) (1990). The marine fauna of the British Isles and North-West Europe: 1. Introduction and protozoans to arthropods. Clarendon Press: Oxford, UK. ISBN 0-19-857356-1. 627 pp.
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Newfoundland to Florida and Texas
  • North-West Atlantic Ocean species (NWARMS)
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Teredo navalis is believed by several authorities to be native to the European western Atlantic. It is now, however, a cosmopolitan species found both in Atlantic and Pacific oceans from the tropics and subtropics to cool temperate waters of both the northern and southern hemisphere (Did?iulis 2007). Details of the distribution of Teredo navalis within the India River Lagoon region are not known. The cosmopolitan distribution of the species and its euryhaline nature (see below), however, suggest it may be well established.
  • B?nsch R., and F. Gosselck 1994. Untersuchungen zum Befall der Buhnen durch Teredo navalis Linnaeus 1758 (Molusca: Bivalvia) an der Ostseek?ste Mecklenburg-Vorpommerns. Gutachten im Auftrag des Staatlichen Amtes Rostock, S. 1-16
  • Carlton J.T., and M.H. Ruckelshaus. 1997. Nonindigenous marine invertebrates and algae. Pp 187-201 in: Simberloff D., Schmitz D.C., and T.C. Brown (eds). Strangers in Paradise. Island Press, Washington, D.C. 467 p.
  • Coe W.R. 1941. Sexual phases in wood-boring mollusks. Biological Bulletin 81:168-176.
  • Cohen A.N. 2004. Invasions in the Sea. National Park Service ParkScience Magazine 22:37-41.
  • Cohen A.N., and J.T. Carlton. 1995. Nonindigenous aquatic species in a United States estuary: a case study of the biological Invasions of the San Francisco Bay and Delta. A Report for the United States Fish and Wildlife Service, Washington D.C. and the National Sea Grant College Program, Connecticut Sea Grant.
  • Costello D.P., and C. Henley 1971. Methods for obtaining and handling marine eggs and embryos. Marine Biological Laboratory, Woods Hole, MA (Second Edition).
  • Did?iulis V. 2007. NOBANIS Invasive Alien Species Fact Sheet - Teredo navalis In: Online Database of the North European and Baltic Network on Invasive Alien Species. Available online.
  • Distel D.L., Beaudoin D., and W. Morrill. 2002. Coexistence of multiple proteobacterial endosymbionts in the gills of the wood-boring bivalve Lyrodus pedicellatus (Bivalvia: Teredinidae). Applied Environmental Microbiology 68:6292-6299.
  • Distel D.L., DeLong, E.F., and J.B. Waterbury. 1991. Phylogenetic characterization and in situ localization of the bacterial symbiont of shipworms (Teredinidae: Bivalvia) by using 16S rRNA sequence analysis and oligodeoxynucleotide probe hybridization. Applied Environmental Microbiology 57:2376-2382.
  • Forbes E., and R.A.C. Godwin-Austen. 1959. The Natural History of the European Seas. 1977 reprint, Arno Press, NY. 306 p.
  • Gallager S.M., Turner, R.D., and C.J. Berg. 1981. Physiological aspects of wood consumption, growth, and reproduction in the shipworm Lyrodus pedicellatus Quatrefages. Journal of Experimental Marine Biology and Ecology 52:63-77.
  • Grave B.H. 1928. Natural history of shipworm, Teredo navalis, at Woods Hole, Massachusetts, Biological Bulletin 55:260-282.
  • Grave B.H. 1942. The sexual cycle of the shipworm, Teredo navalis. Biological Bulletin 82:438-445.
  • Lane C.E. 1959. Some aspects of the general biology of Teredo. pp. 137-144 in: Ray D.L. (Ed.) Marine Boring and Fouling Organisms. University of Washington Press, Seatle, WA. 534 p.
  • Mann R., and S.M. Gallager. 1985. Growth, morphometry and biochemical composition of the wood boring molluscs Teredo navalis L., Bankia gouldi (Bartsch), and Nototeredo knoxi (Bartsch) (Bivalvia: Teredinidae). Journal of Experimental Marine Biology and Ecology 85:229-251.
  • NIMPIS. 2002. Teredo navalis species summary. CSIRO National Introduced Marine Pest Information System (Hewitt C.L., Martin R.B., Sliwa C., McEnnulty, F.R., Murphy, N.E., Jones T. and S. Cooper Eds). Available online.
  • Popham J.D., and M.R. Dikson. 1973. Bacterial associations in the teredo Bankia australis (Lamellibranchia: Molusca). Marine Biology 19:338-340.
  • Reise K., Gollasch S., and W.J. Wolff. 1999. Introduced marine species of the North Sea coasts., Helgol?nder Meeresuntersuchungen 52:219-234.
  • Richards B.R., R.E. Hillman, and N.J. Maciolek. 1984. Shipworms, Pp. 201-225 in: Kennish M.J., and R.A. Lutz (Eds.). Lecture Notes on Coastal and Estuarine Studies - Ecology of Barnegat Bay, New Jersey. Springer-Verlag. New York. 396 p.
  • Rowley S.J., 2005. Teredo navalis. Great shipworm. Marine Life Information Network: Biology and Sensitivity Key Information Sub-programme. Plymouth: Marine Biological Association of the United Kingdom. Available online.
  • Scheltema R.S., and R.V. Truitt. 1954. Ecological factors related to the distribution of Bankia gouldi Bartsch in Chesapeake Bay, Chesapeake Biological Laboratory Publication 100:1-31.
  • Tuente U., Piepenburg D., and M. Spindler. 2002. Occurrence and settlement of the common shipworm Teredo navalis (Bivalvia: Teredinidae) in Bremerhaven harbours, northern Germany. Helgoland Marine Research. Vol. 56:87-94.
  • Turner R.D. 1966. A survey and illustrated catalogue of the Teredinidae (Mollusca: Bivalvia). The Museum of Comparative Zoology, Harvard University, Cambridge. 265 p.
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Teredo navalis is native to and present in four coastal regions: the Atlantic coast of North America from Newfoundland (48°57'25"N 54°36'32"W) to Southern Florida (25°6'24"N 80°25'48W), the Atlantic coast of Europe from Scandinavia (62°28'40"N 6°11'25"E) to northern Iberia (41°13'N 8°9'W), the Pacific coast of Asia from Kamchatka (56°N 160°E) to Formosa (25°2'N 121°38'E), and the Pacific coast of North America from the Aleutians (53°53'20" N 166°31'38" W) to San Francisco (37.48°N 122.33°W) (Wolff 2005).

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Physical Description

Morphology

While T. navalis looks like a brown worm on the outside, it is actually a bivalve. Its head is covered with two white, tri-lobed shells used to bore into wood. The shells are up to 2 cm long and have concentric ridges. Inside the shell is a hook-like process called a styloid apophysis. The foot is also at the anterior end. At the posterior end are two siphons: incurrent and excurrent. The former is used for respiration and feeding while the latter is where waste and sperm or larvae exit. Paddle-like pallets act as a lid to cover the siphons when not in use. Naval shipworms are about 20 cm in length but can range from 1.5 to 58 cm. They are 1 cm in diameter. Calcareous coverings are secreted from their mantles that coat the burrows they make. Male and female adults cannot be distinguished externally.

Range length: 1.5 to 58 cm.

Average length: 20 cm.

Other Physical Features: ectothermic ; heterothermic ; bilateral symmetry

Sexual Dimorphism: sexes alike

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Size: Adult Teredo navalis ranges in length from 20 cm to as much as 50 cm in warmer waters. Its circumference is not more than four centimeters.

Shell: While technically a bivalve, its bivalve shell is reduced to a small grinding device on its anterior end responsible for boring through wood, making it appear as a small white worm with a helmet. This amber-colored helmet-shaped shell is 2 cm long; the sharp ridge at the end is responsible for boring through the wood.

Other organs: The shell plates on its anterior work in tandem with the posterior muscles to bore through the wood that it lands on. The pallets at the posterior end (made of hard shell material) close a burrowed Teredo navalis off from its environment, keeping both potential predators and water with intolerably low salinity from entering its burrow.

Posture: Its typical posture is either a boring posture (if it does not already have a hole in the ship to stay inside) or a posture suited to the shape of the hole in the ship in which it lives.

Sex Dimorphism: There is no significant sexual dimorphism beyond the mantle cavity of the female in which the larvae hatch (Turner 1966: 32-40).

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Size

The largest Teredo navalis individual recorded from the Baltic Sea was 30 cm in length, and individuals from tropical waters may reach 50 cm (Sordyl et al.1998). T. navalis digs approximately 1 cm wide burrows up to 0.6-1m long. (Lane 1959, Turner 1966, NIMPIS, 2002, Rowley 2005, Did?iulis 2007, ITIS 2007).T. navalis individuals typically live 1-3 years. (Sordyl et al. 1998).
  • B?nsch R., and F. Gosselck 1994. Untersuchungen zum Befall der Buhnen durch Teredo navalis Linnaeus 1758 (Molusca: Bivalvia) an der Ostseek?ste Mecklenburg-Vorpommerns. Gutachten im Auftrag des Staatlichen Amtes Rostock, S. 1-16
  • Carlton J.T., and M.H. Ruckelshaus. 1997. Nonindigenous marine invertebrates and algae. Pp 187-201 in: Simberloff D., Schmitz D.C., and T.C. Brown (eds). Strangers in Paradise. Island Press, Washington, D.C. 467 p.
  • Coe W.R. 1941. Sexual phases in wood-boring mollusks. Biological Bulletin 81:168-176.
  • Cohen A.N. 2004. Invasions in the Sea. National Park Service ParkScience Magazine 22:37-41.
  • Cohen A.N., and J.T. Carlton. 1995. Nonindigenous aquatic species in a United States estuary: a case study of the biological Invasions of the San Francisco Bay and Delta. A Report for the United States Fish and Wildlife Service, Washington D.C. and the National Sea Grant College Program, Connecticut Sea Grant.
  • Costello D.P., and C. Henley 1971. Methods for obtaining and handling marine eggs and embryos. Marine Biological Laboratory, Woods Hole, MA (Second Edition).
  • Did?iulis V. 2007. NOBANIS Invasive Alien Species Fact Sheet - Teredo navalis In: Online Database of the North European and Baltic Network on Invasive Alien Species. Available online.
  • Distel D.L., Beaudoin D., and W. Morrill. 2002. Coexistence of multiple proteobacterial endosymbionts in the gills of the wood-boring bivalve Lyrodus pedicellatus (Bivalvia: Teredinidae). Applied Environmental Microbiology 68:6292-6299.
  • Distel D.L., DeLong, E.F., and J.B. Waterbury. 1991. Phylogenetic characterization and in situ localization of the bacterial symbiont of shipworms (Teredinidae: Bivalvia) by using 16S rRNA sequence analysis and oligodeoxynucleotide probe hybridization. Applied Environmental Microbiology 57:2376-2382.
  • Forbes E., and R.A.C. Godwin-Austen. 1959. The Natural History of the European Seas. 1977 reprint, Arno Press, NY. 306 p.
  • Gallager S.M., Turner, R.D., and C.J. Berg. 1981. Physiological aspects of wood consumption, growth, and reproduction in the shipworm Lyrodus pedicellatus Quatrefages. Journal of Experimental Marine Biology and Ecology 52:63-77.
  • Grave B.H. 1928. Natural history of shipworm, Teredo navalis, at Woods Hole, Massachusetts, Biological Bulletin 55:260-282.
  • Grave B.H. 1942. The sexual cycle of the shipworm, Teredo navalis. Biological Bulletin 82:438-445.
  • Lane C.E. 1959. Some aspects of the general biology of Teredo. pp. 137-144 in: Ray D.L. (Ed.) Marine Boring and Fouling Organisms. University of Washington Press, Seatle, WA. 534 p.
  • Mann R., and S.M. Gallager. 1985. Growth, morphometry and biochemical composition of the wood boring molluscs Teredo navalis L., Bankia gouldi (Bartsch), and Nototeredo knoxi (Bartsch) (Bivalvia: Teredinidae). Journal of Experimental Marine Biology and Ecology 85:229-251.
  • NIMPIS. 2002. Teredo navalis species summary. CSIRO National Introduced Marine Pest Information System (Hewitt C.L., Martin R.B., Sliwa C., McEnnulty, F.R., Murphy, N.E., Jones T. and S. Cooper Eds). Available online.
  • Popham J.D., and M.R. Dikson. 1973. Bacterial associations in the teredo Bankia australis (Lamellibranchia: Molusca). Marine Biology 19:338-340.
  • Reise K., Gollasch S., and W.J. Wolff. 1999. Introduced marine species of the North Sea coasts., Helgol?nder Meeresuntersuchungen 52:219-234.
  • Richards B.R., R.E. Hillman, and N.J. Maciolek. 1984. Shipworms, Pp. 201-225 in: Kennish M.J., and R.A. Lutz (Eds.). Lecture Notes on Coastal and Estuarine Studies - Ecology of Barnegat Bay, New Jersey. Springer-Verlag. New York. 396 p.
  • Rowley S.J., 2005. Teredo navalis. Great shipworm. Marine Life Information Network: Biology and Sensitivity Key Information Sub-programme. Plymouth: Marine Biological Association of the United Kingdom. Available online.
  • Scheltema R.S., and R.V. Truitt. 1954. Ecological factors related to the distribution of Bankia gouldi Bartsch in Chesapeake Bay, Chesapeake Biological Laboratory Publication 100:1-31.
  • Tuente U., Piepenburg D., and M. Spindler. 2002. Occurrence and settlement of the common shipworm Teredo navalis (Bivalvia: Teredinidae) in Bremerhaven harbours, northern Germany. Helgoland Marine Research. Vol. 56:87-94.
  • Turner R.D. 1966. A survey and illustrated catalogue of the Teredinidae (Mollusca: Bivalvia). The Museum of Comparative Zoology, Harvard University, Cambridge. 265 p.
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Diagnostic Description

Teredo navalis can be distinguished from similar looking creatures in its natural environment (e.g. marine worms) by the bivalve shell around its anterior end. The shell is in the shape of a helmet and is used for burrowing through wood. When compared with other shipworms, which possess a similar shell, Teredo navalis can be distinguished by the fact that the ratio of the length of its posterior siphons relative to the length of the rest of its body is the smallest of all shipworms (Turner 1966).

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Type Information

Syntype for Teredo (Teredo) novangliae Bartsch, 1922
Catalog Number: USNM 74499
Collection: Smithsonian Institution, National Museum of Natural History, Department of Invertebrate Zoology
Preparation: Dry
Collector(s): United States Bureau of Fisheries
Locality: Woods Hole, Massachusetts, United States, North Atlantic Ocean
Microhabitat: piles at guano works
  • Syntype: Bull. U.S. Nat. Mus. 122: p. 19.
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Holotype for Teredo (Teredo) beaufortana Bartsch, 1922
Catalog Number: USNM 345346
Collection: Smithsonian Institution, National Museum of Natural History, Department of Invertebrate Zoology
Preparation: Dry
Collector(s): United States Bureau of Fisheries
Locality: Beaufort, Rivers [or Piver] Id., North Carolina, United States, North Atlantic Ocean
  • Holotype: Bull. U.S. Nat. Mus. 122: p. 18,22, pl. 32, fig. 1.
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Syntype for Teredo (Teredo) morsei Bartsch, 1922
Catalog Number: USNM 346333
Collection: Smithsonian Institution, National Museum of Natural History, Department of Invertebrate Zoology
Preparation: Dry
Collector(s): T. Townsend
Locality: Long Id., Manhattan Beach, New York, United States, North Atlantic Ocean
  • Syntype: Bull. U.S. Nat. Mus. 122: p. 21.
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Holotype for Teredo (Teredo) beachi Bartsch, 1921
Catalog Number: USNM 341155
Collection: Smithsonian Institution, National Museum of Natural History, Department of Invertebrate Zoology
Preparation: Dry
Collector(s): P. Bartsch
Locality: California, United States, San Pablo Bay, North Pacific Ocean
  • Holotype: Proc. Biol. Soc. Wash. 34: 29.
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At least six other species of Teredo occur in the U.S. south Atlantic, including T. bartschi, T. fulleri and T. furcifera which have been recorded from the IRL region of Florida, and T. clappi that has been found on a ship's keel in Key West (SMS: http://www.sms.si.edu/irlspec/Tspecies.htm, Carlton and Ruckelshaus 1997). A number of shipworms from two additional genera, Bankia (B. carinata, B. fimbriatula) and Lyrodus (L. bipartitus,L. medilobatus, L. massa) have also been recorded from Florida. All of these shipworm species are considered either cryptogenic or introduced (Carlton and Ruckelshaus 1997).Classification and identification of Teredo species is based on the shape of the siphonal pallets (see above). The paddle-like shape of these structures in T. navalis may be useful as a diagnostic key (NIMPIS 2002).
  • B?nsch R., and F. Gosselck 1994. Untersuchungen zum Befall der Buhnen durch Teredo navalis Linnaeus 1758 (Molusca: Bivalvia) an der Ostseek?ste Mecklenburg-Vorpommerns. Gutachten im Auftrag des Staatlichen Amtes Rostock, S. 1-16
  • Carlton J.T., and M.H. Ruckelshaus. 1997. Nonindigenous marine invertebrates and algae. Pp 187-201 in: Simberloff D., Schmitz D.C., and T.C. Brown (eds). Strangers in Paradise. Island Press, Washington, D.C. 467 p.
  • Coe W.R. 1941. Sexual phases in wood-boring mollusks. Biological Bulletin 81:168-176.
  • Cohen A.N. 2004. Invasions in the Sea. National Park Service ParkScience Magazine 22:37-41.
  • Cohen A.N., and J.T. Carlton. 1995. Nonindigenous aquatic species in a United States estuary: a case study of the biological Invasions of the San Francisco Bay and Delta. A Report for the United States Fish and Wildlife Service, Washington D.C. and the National Sea Grant College Program, Connecticut Sea Grant.
  • Costello D.P., and C. Henley 1971. Methods for obtaining and handling marine eggs and embryos. Marine Biological Laboratory, Woods Hole, MA (Second Edition).
  • Did?iulis V. 2007. NOBANIS Invasive Alien Species Fact Sheet - Teredo navalis In: Online Database of the North European and Baltic Network on Invasive Alien Species. Available online.
  • Distel D.L., Beaudoin D., and W. Morrill. 2002. Coexistence of multiple proteobacterial endosymbionts in the gills of the wood-boring bivalve Lyrodus pedicellatus (Bivalvia: Teredinidae). Applied Environmental Microbiology 68:6292-6299.
  • Distel D.L., DeLong, E.F., and J.B. Waterbury. 1991. Phylogenetic characterization and in situ localization of the bacterial symbiont of shipworms (Teredinidae: Bivalvia) by using 16S rRNA sequence analysis and oligodeoxynucleotide probe hybridization. Applied Environmental Microbiology 57:2376-2382.
  • Forbes E., and R.A.C. Godwin-Austen. 1959. The Natural History of the European Seas. 1977 reprint, Arno Press, NY. 306 p.
  • Gallager S.M., Turner, R.D., and C.J. Berg. 1981. Physiological aspects of wood consumption, growth, and reproduction in the shipworm Lyrodus pedicellatus Quatrefages. Journal of Experimental Marine Biology and Ecology 52:63-77.
  • Grave B.H. 1928. Natural history of shipworm, Teredo navalis, at Woods Hole, Massachusetts, Biological Bulletin 55:260-282.
  • Grave B.H. 1942. The sexual cycle of the shipworm, Teredo navalis. Biological Bulletin 82:438-445.
  • Lane C.E. 1959. Some aspects of the general biology of Teredo. pp. 137-144 in: Ray D.L. (Ed.) Marine Boring and Fouling Organisms. University of Washington Press, Seatle, WA. 534 p.
  • Mann R., and S.M. Gallager. 1985. Growth, morphometry and biochemical composition of the wood boring molluscs Teredo navalis L., Bankia gouldi (Bartsch), and Nototeredo knoxi (Bartsch) (Bivalvia: Teredinidae). Journal of Experimental Marine Biology and Ecology 85:229-251.
  • NIMPIS. 2002. Teredo navalis species summary. CSIRO National Introduced Marine Pest Information System (Hewitt C.L., Martin R.B., Sliwa C., McEnnulty, F.R., Murphy, N.E., Jones T. and S. Cooper Eds). Available online.
  • Popham J.D., and M.R. Dikson. 1973. Bacterial associations in the teredo Bankia australis (Lamellibranchia: Molusca). Marine Biology 19:338-340.
  • Reise K., Gollasch S., and W.J. Wolff. 1999. Introduced marine species of the North Sea coasts., Helgol?nder Meeresuntersuchungen 52:219-234.
  • Richards B.R., R.E. Hillman, and N.J. Maciolek. 1984. Shipworms, Pp. 201-225 in: Kennish M.J., and R.A. Lutz (Eds.). Lecture Notes on Coastal and Estuarine Studies - Ecology of Barnegat Bay, New Jersey. Springer-Verlag. New York. 396 p.
  • Rowley S.J., 2005. Teredo navalis. Great shipworm. Marine Life Information Network: Biology and Sensitivity Key Information Sub-programme. Plymouth: Marine Biological Association of the United Kingdom. Available online.
  • Scheltema R.S., and R.V. Truitt. 1954. Ecological factors related to the distribution of Bankia gouldi Bartsch in Chesapeake Bay, Chesapeake Biological Laboratory Publication 100:1-31.
  • Tuente U., Piepenburg D., and M. Spindler. 2002. Occurrence and settlement of the common shipworm Teredo navalis (Bivalvia: Teredinidae) in Bremerhaven harbours, northern Germany. Helgoland Marine Research. Vol. 56:87-94.
  • Turner R.D. 1966. A survey and illustrated catalogue of the Teredinidae (Mollusca: Bivalvia). The Museum of Comparative Zoology, Harvard University, Cambridge. 265 p.
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Teredo navalis looks similar to the shipworm Bankia bipalmulata Lamarck 1801. The major distinguishing difference between Teredo navalis and Bankia bipalmulata is that the lateral awns (fleshy projections that attach roughly a third of the way down the body) are longer in Bankia bipalmulata. These awns are so long in Bankia bipalmulata that they require pieces of shell for structure, which Teredo navalis lacks (Tsunoda and Nishimoto, 1972: 5).

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Ecology

Habitat

Naval shipworms are marine and estuarine organisms inhabiting various submerged wooden substrates including floating wood, ships, or wharfs. Part of their larval stage is spent free-swimming in water. While they can tolerate low saline levels (up to 5 ppt), they flourish at levels greater than 9 ppt. Their optimal temperature range is 15 to 25 degrees Celsius and, as a result, T. navalis can be found in temperate and tropical zones.

Habitat Regions: temperate ; tropical ; saltwater or marine

Aquatic Biomes: pelagic ; benthic ; coastal ; brackish water

Other Habitat Features: estuarine

  • Tuente, U., D. Piepenburg, M. Spindler. 2002. Occurence and settlement of the common shipworm Teredo navalis (Bivalvia: Teredinidae) in Bremerhaven harbours, northern Germany. Helgoland Marine Research, 56: 87-94.
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infralittoral of the Gulf and estuary
  • North-West Atlantic Ocean species (NWARMS)
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Depth range based on 6 specimens in 1 taxon.

Environmental ranges
  Depth range (m): 0 - 27.43

Graphical representation

Depth range (m): 0 - 27.43
 
Note: this information has not been validated. Check this *note*. Your feedback is most welcome.

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 This wood boring bivalve is the most common and destructive ship worm. It is not easily recognizable as a bivalve mollusc, boring permanent tubes into wooden structures such as piers, boat hulls and drift wood.
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Teredo navalis survives the larval stage in relatively shallow ocean waters but prefers the protection of the hole that it bores into a wooden ship's hull as a larva. Teredo navalis is viable in a water temperature range of 11-20°C, but its reproductive maximum is 15°. Its water depth range is 0-27m. Its minimum salinity is 8%. Before the advent of wooden ships Teredo navalis would have been more reliant on driftwood. With the modern transition to steel-hulled ships we might see Teredo navalis return to this reliance. After burrowing into wood, Teredo navalis lines the holes with calcified walls (Kristensen 1979).

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Migration

alien species

Alhoewel de naam en vorm doen denken aan een worm is de paalworm Teredo navalis een tweekleppig weekdier. De soort graaft gangen in hout en verspreidde zich reeds vroeg over de wereld dankzij transport via scheepsrompen en drijfhout. Daardoor is het moeilijk te achterhalen waar de soort oorspronkelijk voorkwam. De soort baart scheepslui al decennia lang zorgen doordat ze houten oppervlakken van boten en havens aantast.
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Alien species

Although both its name and shape reminds us of a worm, the naval shipworm Teredo navalis is a bivalve mollusc. This species drills tunnels in wood and has dispersed all over the world seas, hitchhiking in the hulls of wooden ships and driftwood. Its early and universal spread makes it hard to determine where this species originally occurred. The naval shipworm has troubled sailors for centuries, because it affects the wood of ships.
  • VLIZ Alien Species Consortium
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Dispersal

Teredo navalis has a small foot (located just below the mouth) that allows it to move about after it is no longer a free-swimming larva. It is able to achieve locomotion through the water by undulating, and is able to move through wood in much the same way.

Teredo navalis has achieved its vast adaptive radiation by burrowing into ship hulls of seafaring peoples (most recently Europeans), who unwittingly introduced them to previously unthreatened shipyards from the Netherlands to New York to San Francisco (Tsunoda and Nishimoto 1976: 34).

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Trophic Strategy

Naval shipworms primarily feed on wood. They are able to do so because of enzymes produced by the nitrogen-fixing bacteria within them. Teredo navalis use their shell to cut into the wood. The pieces are then transported into the mouth via cilia. Organisms from the water may also be taken up for food via the inhalant siphon. Free-swimming veligers feed on plankton.

Plant Foods: wood, bark, or stems; phytoplankton

Other Foods: microbes

Foraging Behavior: filter-feeding

Primary Diet: herbivore (Lignivore); planktivore

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Teredo navalis is primarily xylophagous, feeding directly on wood. Some authors suggest a limited degree of filter feeder on water column plankton as well, although Mann and Gallager (1985) report experimental results indicating non-significant growth enhancement in T. navalis when phytoplankton was provided in addition to wood.Genus Teredo is unique even among wood-boring bivalves in its ability to feed solely on wood (Gallager et al. 1981). It does so with the aid of symbiotic cellulolytic, nitrogen-fixing bacteria contained in specialised epithelial cells on the gills (Popham and Dikson 1973, Distel et al. 2002). T. navalis uses its sculpted shell to rasp wood particles that are moved via cilia to the mouth for ingestion. Water is obtained through the incurrent siphons and is used for feeding as well as respiration and excretion/egestion (Did?iulis 2007).
  • B?nsch R., and F. Gosselck 1994. Untersuchungen zum Befall der Buhnen durch Teredo navalis Linnaeus 1758 (Molusca: Bivalvia) an der Ostseek?ste Mecklenburg-Vorpommerns. Gutachten im Auftrag des Staatlichen Amtes Rostock, S. 1-16
  • Carlton J.T., and M.H. Ruckelshaus. 1997. Nonindigenous marine invertebrates and algae. Pp 187-201 in: Simberloff D., Schmitz D.C., and T.C. Brown (eds). Strangers in Paradise. Island Press, Washington, D.C. 467 p.
  • Coe W.R. 1941. Sexual phases in wood-boring mollusks. Biological Bulletin 81:168-176.
  • Cohen A.N. 2004. Invasions in the Sea. National Park Service ParkScience Magazine 22:37-41.
  • Cohen A.N., and J.T. Carlton. 1995. Nonindigenous aquatic species in a United States estuary: a case study of the biological Invasions of the San Francisco Bay and Delta. A Report for the United States Fish and Wildlife Service, Washington D.C. and the National Sea Grant College Program, Connecticut Sea Grant.
  • Costello D.P., and C. Henley 1971. Methods for obtaining and handling marine eggs and embryos. Marine Biological Laboratory, Woods Hole, MA (Second Edition).
  • Did?iulis V. 2007. NOBANIS Invasive Alien Species Fact Sheet - Teredo navalis In: Online Database of the North European and Baltic Network on Invasive Alien Species. Available online.
  • Distel D.L., Beaudoin D., and W. Morrill. 2002. Coexistence of multiple proteobacterial endosymbionts in the gills of the wood-boring bivalve Lyrodus pedicellatus (Bivalvia: Teredinidae). Applied Environmental Microbiology 68:6292-6299.
  • Distel D.L., DeLong, E.F., and J.B. Waterbury. 1991. Phylogenetic characterization and in situ localization of the bacterial symbiont of shipworms (Teredinidae: Bivalvia) by using 16S rRNA sequence analysis and oligodeoxynucleotide probe hybridization. Applied Environmental Microbiology 57:2376-2382.
  • Forbes E., and R.A.C. Godwin-Austen. 1959. The Natural History of the European Seas. 1977 reprint, Arno Press, NY. 306 p.
  • Gallager S.M., Turner, R.D., and C.J. Berg. 1981. Physiological aspects of wood consumption, growth, and reproduction in the shipworm Lyrodus pedicellatus Quatrefages. Journal of Experimental Marine Biology and Ecology 52:63-77.
  • Grave B.H. 1928. Natural history of shipworm, Teredo navalis, at Woods Hole, Massachusetts, Biological Bulletin 55:260-282.
  • Grave B.H. 1942. The sexual cycle of the shipworm, Teredo navalis. Biological Bulletin 82:438-445.
  • Lane C.E. 1959. Some aspects of the general biology of Teredo. pp. 137-144 in: Ray D.L. (Ed.) Marine Boring and Fouling Organisms. University of Washington Press, Seatle, WA. 534 p.
  • Mann R., and S.M. Gallager. 1985. Growth, morphometry and biochemical composition of the wood boring molluscs Teredo navalis L., Bankia gouldi (Bartsch), and Nototeredo knoxi (Bartsch) (Bivalvia: Teredinidae). Journal of Experimental Marine Biology and Ecology 85:229-251.
  • NIMPIS. 2002. Teredo navalis species summary. CSIRO National Introduced Marine Pest Information System (Hewitt C.L., Martin R.B., Sliwa C., McEnnulty, F.R., Murphy, N.E., Jones T. and S. Cooper Eds). Available online.
  • Popham J.D., and M.R. Dikson. 1973. Bacterial associations in the teredo Bankia australis (Lamellibranchia: Molusca). Marine Biology 19:338-340.
  • Reise K., Gollasch S., and W.J. Wolff. 1999. Introduced marine species of the North Sea coasts., Helgol?nder Meeresuntersuchungen 52:219-234.
  • Richards B.R., R.E. Hillman, and N.J. Maciolek. 1984. Shipworms, Pp. 201-225 in: Kennish M.J., and R.A. Lutz (Eds.). Lecture Notes on Coastal and Estuarine Studies - Ecology of Barnegat Bay, New Jersey. Springer-Verlag. New York. 396 p.
  • Rowley S.J., 2005. Teredo navalis. Great shipworm. Marine Life Information Network: Biology and Sensitivity Key Information Sub-programme. Plymouth: Marine Biological Association of the United Kingdom. Available online.
  • Scheltema R.S., and R.V. Truitt. 1954. Ecological factors related to the distribution of Bankia gouldi Bartsch in Chesapeake Bay, Chesapeake Biological Laboratory Publication 100:1-31.
  • Tuente U., Piepenburg D., and M. Spindler. 2002. Occurrence and settlement of the common shipworm Teredo navalis (Bivalvia: Teredinidae) in Bremerhaven harbours, northern Germany. Helgoland Marine Research. Vol. 56:87-94.
  • Turner R.D. 1966. A survey and illustrated catalogue of the Teredinidae (Mollusca: Bivalvia). The Museum of Comparative Zoology, Harvard University, Cambridge. 265 p.
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Teredo navalis is a heterotroph, fitting in its food network as a low-level consumer of diatoms and wood. Teredo navalis is able to sustain itself by eating wood because of the work of symbiotic celluloltyic nitrogen-fixing bacteria in its gills, contradicting the belief of scientists from antiquity to the Victorian era that Teredo navalis bored through wood only for protection. Protection is a consideration, but wood and diatoms are the only components of Teredo navalis' diet (Dore and Miller 1923: 384).

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Associations

Naval shipworms break down submerged wooden substrates. The holes they create in the wood can be used by crustaceans such as Idotea. Teredo navalis share a symbiotic relationship with the nitrogen-fixing bacteria within them that help the shipworms digest wood. Some protozoa are known to parasitize this species.

Ecosystem Impact: creates habitat; biodegradation

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The calcerous covering they secrete not only act as a lubricant but also deters predators or poisons in the water. In response to these conditions, thicker calcareous material is secreted at the anterior end in addition to the sides. Predators include bacteria and parasitic protozoa like Architophrya. Native Australians and snails also eat naval shipworms.

Known Predators:

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Plant / grows inside
animal of Teredo navalis grows inside dead, submerged wood of Trees

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Teredo navalis is likely to occur in association with other shipworm species within submerged timbers.Invasion History: Teredo navalis has been transported by ships for so many centuries that its historic native distribution cannot be known with certainty. Its center of endemism is believed to be European, however; there exists substantial evidence supporting the assertion that the species is correctly considered exotic and introduced on both coasts of the Americas (Ruiz et al. 2000, NIMPIS 2002).In 1839, T. navalis was first reported in Massachusetts Bay in the sheathing of foreign wooden vessels. A century later the species was abundant in samples taken fromm Nova Scotia to Massachusetts The species was first collected from Long Island Sound in 1869, again from the timbers of a sailing vessel. Within several decades the species was collected in abundance in test boards from all around New York Harbor (Brown 1953).This shipworm occurred at low densities around Chesapeake Bay as early as 1878. As recently as the mid 1950s, the species was reported as rare in Chesapeake Bay (Andrews 1956). Subsequently, T. navalis has been collected from North Carolina and southward to Florida, Texas, the Bahamas, and Puerto Rico (Brown 1953).On the U.S. west coast, introduction of T. navalis into San Francisco Bay in 1913 led to a serious invasion and substantial negative economic impact (Cohen 2004). Potential to Compete With Natives: Where Teredo navalis co-occurs with native shipworm species, some degree of resource competition is likely. Possible Economic Consequences of Invasion: Turner (1966) proposed Teredo navalis as likely the most widespread marine wood borer in the world. The historic negative economic impacts of T. navalis invasion may rival those of any other introduced marine species. It is the species believed responsible for a massive infestation of Dutch dikes in the 17th century. It was also described by a Dutch commission in 1731 as a "horrible plague" threatening to destroy the dikes protecting the lowlands of Holland (Cohen and Carlton 1995, Reise et al. 1999). The damage inflicted by the shipworms prompted replacement of wooden dikes with stone.Massive T. navalis infestation was also responsible for the destruction of an unknown number of wharves, piers, ferry slips and other wooden harbor structures at a rate of a major structure a week for a period of two years in San Francisco Bay from 1919-1921. Cohen (2004) notes that in current dollars this would have equated to between $2 billion and $20 billion in damage.In general T. navalis has a centuries-long history of causing damage to sailing vessels, piers, pilings, marinas, and any other submerged wooden structures. In 1946, shipworms were estimated to cause $55 million/year of damage to waterfront structures in U.S. (Scheltema and Truitt 1954).
  • B?nsch R., and F. Gosselck 1994. Untersuchungen zum Befall der Buhnen durch Teredo navalis Linnaeus 1758 (Molusca: Bivalvia) an der Ostseek?ste Mecklenburg-Vorpommerns. Gutachten im Auftrag des Staatlichen Amtes Rostock, S. 1-16
  • Carlton J.T., and M.H. Ruckelshaus. 1997. Nonindigenous marine invertebrates and algae. Pp 187-201 in: Simberloff D., Schmitz D.C., and T.C. Brown (eds). Strangers in Paradise. Island Press, Washington, D.C. 467 p.
  • Coe W.R. 1941. Sexual phases in wood-boring mollusks. Biological Bulletin 81:168-176.
  • Cohen A.N. 2004. Invasions in the Sea. National Park Service ParkScience Magazine 22:37-41.
  • Cohen A.N., and J.T. Carlton. 1995. Nonindigenous aquatic species in a United States estuary: a case study of the biological Invasions of the San Francisco Bay and Delta. A Report for the United States Fish and Wildlife Service, Washington D.C. and the National Sea Grant College Program, Connecticut Sea Grant.
  • Costello D.P., and C. Henley 1971. Methods for obtaining and handling marine eggs and embryos. Marine Biological Laboratory, Woods Hole, MA (Second Edition).
  • Did?iulis V. 2007. NOBANIS Invasive Alien Species Fact Sheet - Teredo navalis In: Online Database of the North European and Baltic Network on Invasive Alien Species. Available online.
  • Distel D.L., Beaudoin D., and W. Morrill. 2002. Coexistence of multiple proteobacterial endosymbionts in the gills of the wood-boring bivalve Lyrodus pedicellatus (Bivalvia: Teredinidae). Applied Environmental Microbiology 68:6292-6299.
  • Distel D.L., DeLong, E.F., and J.B. Waterbury. 1991. Phylogenetic characterization and in situ localization of the bacterial symbiont of shipworms (Teredinidae: Bivalvia) by using 16S rRNA sequence analysis and oligodeoxynucleotide probe hybridization. Applied Environmental Microbiology 57:2376-2382.
  • Forbes E., and R.A.C. Godwin-Austen. 1959. The Natural History of the European Seas. 1977 reprint, Arno Press, NY. 306 p.
  • Gallager S.M., Turner, R.D., and C.J. Berg. 1981. Physiological aspects of wood consumption, growth, and reproduction in the shipworm Lyrodus pedicellatus Quatrefages. Journal of Experimental Marine Biology and Ecology 52:63-77.
  • Grave B.H. 1928. Natural history of shipworm, Teredo navalis, at Woods Hole, Massachusetts, Biological Bulletin 55:260-282.
  • Grave B.H. 1942. The sexual cycle of the shipworm, Teredo navalis. Biological Bulletin 82:438-445.
  • Lane C.E. 1959. Some aspects of the general biology of Teredo. pp. 137-144 in: Ray D.L. (Ed.) Marine Boring and Fouling Organisms. University of Washington Press, Seatle, WA. 534 p.
  • Mann R., and S.M. Gallager. 1985. Growth, morphometry and biochemical composition of the wood boring molluscs Teredo navalis L., Bankia gouldi (Bartsch), and Nototeredo knoxi (Bartsch) (Bivalvia: Teredinidae). Journal of Experimental Marine Biology and Ecology 85:229-251.
  • NIMPIS. 2002. Teredo navalis species summary. CSIRO National Introduced Marine Pest Information System (Hewitt C.L., Martin R.B., Sliwa C., McEnnulty, F.R., Murphy, N.E., Jones T. and S. Cooper Eds). Available online.
  • Popham J.D., and M.R. Dikson. 1973. Bacterial associations in the teredo Bankia australis (Lamellibranchia: Molusca). Marine Biology 19:338-340.
  • Reise K., Gollasch S., and W.J. Wolff. 1999. Introduced marine species of the North Sea coasts., Helgol?nder Meeresuntersuchungen 52:219-234.
  • Richards B.R., R.E. Hillman, and N.J. Maciolek. 1984. Shipworms, Pp. 201-225 in: Kennish M.J., and R.A. Lutz (Eds.). Lecture Notes on Coastal and Estuarine Studies - Ecology of Barnegat Bay, New Jersey. Springer-Verlag. New York. 396 p.
  • Rowley S.J., 2005. Teredo navalis. Great shipworm. Marine Life Information Network: Biology and Sensitivity Key Information Sub-programme. Plymouth: Marine Biological Association of the United Kingdom. Available online.
  • Scheltema R.S., and R.V. Truitt. 1954. Ecological factors related to the distribution of Bankia gouldi Bartsch in Chesapeake Bay, Chesapeake Biological Laboratory Publication 100:1-31.
  • Tuente U., Piepenburg D., and M. Spindler. 2002. Occurrence and settlement of the common shipworm Teredo navalis (Bivalvia: Teredinidae) in Bremerhaven harbours, northern Germany. Helgoland Marine Research. Vol. 56:87-94.
  • Turner R.D. 1966. A survey and illustrated catalogue of the Teredinidae (Mollusca: Bivalvia). The Museum of Comparative Zoology, Harvard University, Cambridge. 265 p.
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Population Biology

Modernization of the world fleet away from wodden vessels and improvement in the chemical treatment of wood pilings and other submerged timbers has greatly lessened the available manmade substrata available for colonization by wood-boring marine invertebrates.Historical abundance of Teredo navalis in many harbors was so great that this animal was a key factor limiting the life expectancy of wooden ships. Forbes and Godwin-Austin, in their book, The Natural History of the European Seas (1859), note that T. navalis abundance in the Welsh harbor of Sebastopol was once so great as to cause the destruction of submerged ship timbers in just eight years on average.
  • B?nsch R., and F. Gosselck 1994. Untersuchungen zum Befall der Buhnen durch Teredo navalis Linnaeus 1758 (Molusca: Bivalvia) an der Ostseek?ste Mecklenburg-Vorpommerns. Gutachten im Auftrag des Staatlichen Amtes Rostock, S. 1-16
  • Carlton J.T., and M.H. Ruckelshaus. 1997. Nonindigenous marine invertebrates and algae. Pp 187-201 in: Simberloff D., Schmitz D.C., and T.C. Brown (eds). Strangers in Paradise. Island Press, Washington, D.C. 467 p.
  • Coe W.R. 1941. Sexual phases in wood-boring mollusks. Biological Bulletin 81:168-176.
  • Cohen A.N. 2004. Invasions in the Sea. National Park Service ParkScience Magazine 22:37-41.
  • Cohen A.N., and J.T. Carlton. 1995. Nonindigenous aquatic species in a United States estuary: a case study of the biological Invasions of the San Francisco Bay and Delta. A Report for the United States Fish and Wildlife Service, Washington D.C. and the National Sea Grant College Program, Connecticut Sea Grant.
  • Costello D.P., and C. Henley 1971. Methods for obtaining and handling marine eggs and embryos. Marine Biological Laboratory, Woods Hole, MA (Second Edition).
  • Did?iulis V. 2007. NOBANIS Invasive Alien Species Fact Sheet - Teredo navalis In: Online Database of the North European and Baltic Network on Invasive Alien Species. Available online.
  • Distel D.L., Beaudoin D., and W. Morrill. 2002. Coexistence of multiple proteobacterial endosymbionts in the gills of the wood-boring bivalve Lyrodus pedicellatus (Bivalvia: Teredinidae). Applied Environmental Microbiology 68:6292-6299.
  • Distel D.L., DeLong, E.F., and J.B. Waterbury. 1991. Phylogenetic characterization and in situ localization of the bacterial symbiont of shipworms (Teredinidae: Bivalvia) by using 16S rRNA sequence analysis and oligodeoxynucleotide probe hybridization. Applied Environmental Microbiology 57:2376-2382.
  • Forbes E., and R.A.C. Godwin-Austen. 1959. The Natural History of the European Seas. 1977 reprint, Arno Press, NY. 306 p.
  • Gallager S.M., Turner, R.D., and C.J. Berg. 1981. Physiological aspects of wood consumption, growth, and reproduction in the shipworm Lyrodus pedicellatus Quatrefages. Journal of Experimental Marine Biology and Ecology 52:63-77.
  • Grave B.H. 1928. Natural history of shipworm, Teredo navalis, at Woods Hole, Massachusetts, Biological Bulletin 55:260-282.
  • Grave B.H. 1942. The sexual cycle of the shipworm, Teredo navalis. Biological Bulletin 82:438-445.
  • Lane C.E. 1959. Some aspects of the general biology of Teredo. pp. 137-144 in: Ray D.L. (Ed.) Marine Boring and Fouling Organisms. University of Washington Press, Seatle, WA. 534 p.
  • Mann R., and S.M. Gallager. 1985. Growth, morphometry and biochemical composition of the wood boring molluscs Teredo navalis L., Bankia gouldi (Bartsch), and Nototeredo knoxi (Bartsch) (Bivalvia: Teredinidae). Journal of Experimental Marine Biology and Ecology 85:229-251.
  • NIMPIS. 2002. Teredo navalis species summary. CSIRO National Introduced Marine Pest Information System (Hewitt C.L., Martin R.B., Sliwa C., McEnnulty, F.R., Murphy, N.E., Jones T. and S. Cooper Eds). Available online.
  • Popham J.D., and M.R. Dikson. 1973. Bacterial associations in the teredo Bankia australis (Lamellibranchia: Molusca). Marine Biology 19:338-340.
  • Reise K., Gollasch S., and W.J. Wolff. 1999. Introduced marine species of the North Sea coasts., Helgol?nder Meeresuntersuchungen 52:219-234.
  • Richards B.R., R.E. Hillman, and N.J. Maciolek. 1984. Shipworms, Pp. 201-225 in: Kennish M.J., and R.A. Lutz (Eds.). Lecture Notes on Coastal and Estuarine Studies - Ecology of Barnegat Bay, New Jersey. Springer-Verlag. New York. 396 p.
  • Rowley S.J., 2005. Teredo navalis. Great shipworm. Marine Life Information Network: Biology and Sensitivity Key Information Sub-programme. Plymouth: Marine Biological Association of the United Kingdom. Available online.
  • Scheltema R.S., and R.V. Truitt. 1954. Ecological factors related to the distribution of Bankia gouldi Bartsch in Chesapeake Bay, Chesapeake Biological Laboratory Publication 100:1-31.
  • Tuente U., Piepenburg D., and M. Spindler. 2002. Occurrence and settlement of the common shipworm Teredo navalis (Bivalvia: Teredinidae) in Bremerhaven harbours, northern Germany. Helgoland Marine Research. Vol. 56:87-94.
  • Turner R.D. 1966. A survey and illustrated catalogue of the Teredinidae (Mollusca: Bivalvia). The Museum of Comparative Zoology, Harvard University, Cambridge. 265 p.
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General Ecology

Teredo navalis contributes to the functioning of its ecosystem through its unique ability to process wood. In areas where there are few wooden ship hulls, Teredo navalis is often the only organism capable of processing the driftwood that could otherwise pose a threat to the local environment. This processing of wood thus represents not only a niche for Teredo navalis but also an important service for the ecosystem.

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Life History and Behavior

Behavior

There is limited information on how T. navalis communicates.

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Life Cycle

Teredo navalis takes about five weeks to develop from eggs to metamorphosing larvae. They spend half of this time in the mother’s gill chamber until they are released into the water as free-swimming larvae. As the larvae develop, they transition from being small and white to large and dark gray. Fertilized eggs develop into cilia-covered larvae, referred to as trochophores. Over time, cilia are seen covering only the velum in larvae, now called veligers. The velum serves as an organ participating in movement and feeding. A shell appears about the same time in development as the velum and becomes bivalved after formation. Older veligers are released into the water. During this free-swimming stage, the siphons, gills, and foot develop. Once shipworms attach onto a wooden substrate, metamorphosis is observed.

Sexes alternate in T. navalis. Young are hermaphrodites while adults are either male or female. Usually, organisms are male first and then become female later. A second male to female phase may occur but shipworms normally do not live long enough for completion of the second phase.

Development - Life Cycle: metamorphosis

  • Coe, W. 1943. Development of the primary gonads and differentiation of sexuality in Teredo navalis and other pelecypod mollusks. Biological Bulletin, 84: 178-186.
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After hatching, larval development (lasting six weeks) mostly involves elongation of the body and development of the foot. Larvae are typically free-swimming by June; as the water temperature rises they begin boring into available wood, usually ships in harbors. The boring season lasts from June to September. If Teredo navalis has not burrowed into wood by October then it risks dying in the cold, open ocean (Turner 1966).

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Life Expectancy

The lifespan of shipworms is 1 to 3 years.

Average lifespan

Status: wild:
1-3 years.

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Teredo navalis can be expected to live for between 1 and 3 years. Large amounts of offspring are produced to compensate for the low chances of survival past the larval stage (Sordyl et al 1998: 526).

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Reproduction

While no direct information was found on the mating system of T. navalis, it can be inferred to be polygynandrous. Males release sperm into the water, which females pick up via the incurrent siphon. This occurs on multiple occasions, as females spawn 3 to 4 times per season.

Mating System: polygynandrous (promiscuous)

Reproduction typically occurs in the summer months when temperatures reach 15 degrees Celsius. Females spawn 3 to 4 times per season, each time releasing 1 to 5 million larvae. Teredo navalis embryos spend the first 2 to 3 weeks in the mother’s gill chamber. They are then released into the water as free-swimming veligers. Released larvae are 88 by 75 microns with a depth of 55 to 57 microns. They reach sexual maturity 6 to 8 weeks after inhabiting wood.

As mentioned previously, shipworms alternate between sexes during their life. When larvae mature, half of their gonads become spermatocytes, the other half ovocytes. Usually, spermatocytes multiply faster and are released earlier.

Breeding interval: Shipworms spawn 3 to 4 times each season

Breeding season: Breeding season is usually in the summer

Range number of offspring: 1,000,000 to 5,000,000.

Range gestation period: 2 to 3 weeks.

Range time to independence: 2 to 3 weeks.

Range age at sexual or reproductive maturity (female): 6 to 8 weeks.

Range age at sexual or reproductive maturity (male): 6 to 8 weeks.

Key Reproductive Features: seasonal breeding ; simultaneous hermaphrodite; sequential hermaphrodite (Protandrous ); sexual ; fertilization (Internal ); broadcast (group) spawning; viviparous

Females carry offspring in gill chambers during early development. When larvae reach the advanced veliger stage, they are released into the water. There is no evidence that mothers assist veligers in finding wooden substrates to inhabit.

Parental Investment: female parental care ; pre-hatching/birth (Protecting: Female); pre-weaning/fledging (Protecting: Female)

  • 2009. "Teredo navalis" (On-line). Accessed June 01, 2011 at http://www.itis.gov/servlet/SingleRpt/SingleRpt.
  • Coe, W. 1943. Development of the primary gonads and differentiation of sexuality in Teredo navalis and other pelecypod mollusks. Biological Bulletin, 84: 178-186.
  • Culliney, J. 1975. Comparative larval development of the shipworms Bankia gouldi and Teredo navalis. Marine Biology, 29: 245-251.
  • Grave, B. 1928. Natural history of shipworm, Teredo navalis, at Woods Hole, Massachusetts. Biological Bulletin, 55 (4): 260-282.
  • NIMPIS, 2011. "Teredo navalis, general information" (On-line). National Introduced Marine Pest Information System. Accessed June 01, 2011 at http://adl.brs.gov.au/marinepests/index.cfm?fa=main.spDetailsDB&sp=6000016293.
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Reproduction in Teredo navalis is sexual and individuals become reproductive as 6 weeks post-settlement. Spawning is temperature dependant, occurring from April-September in Barnegat Bay, New Jersey, and slightly later (May-October) at Woods Hole, Massachusetts, once the water has warmed somewhat. Salinities of 12 ppt or greater may be required. Male gametes are released to the water column and subsequently taken in through the incurrent siphons of other individuals in which fertilization occurs internally within the epibranchial cavity (Grave 1928, 1942, Coe 1941, Lane 1959, Richards et al. 1984, NIMPIS 2002, Did?iulis 2007).Fecundity in this species is high with individual worms capable of brooding 1-5 million larvae (Grave 1928). Evidence of hermaphroditism has been recorded in young animals but the sexes appear to be separate as adults (NIMPIS, 2002).
  • B?nsch R., and F. Gosselck 1994. Untersuchungen zum Befall der Buhnen durch Teredo navalis Linnaeus 1758 (Molusca: Bivalvia) an der Ostseek?ste Mecklenburg-Vorpommerns. Gutachten im Auftrag des Staatlichen Amtes Rostock, S. 1-16
  • Carlton J.T., and M.H. Ruckelshaus. 1997. Nonindigenous marine invertebrates and algae. Pp 187-201 in: Simberloff D., Schmitz D.C., and T.C. Brown (eds). Strangers in Paradise. Island Press, Washington, D.C. 467 p.
  • Coe W.R. 1941. Sexual phases in wood-boring mollusks. Biological Bulletin 81:168-176.
  • Cohen A.N. 2004. Invasions in the Sea. National Park Service ParkScience Magazine 22:37-41.
  • Cohen A.N., and J.T. Carlton. 1995. Nonindigenous aquatic species in a United States estuary: a case study of the biological Invasions of the San Francisco Bay and Delta. A Report for the United States Fish and Wildlife Service, Washington D.C. and the National Sea Grant College Program, Connecticut Sea Grant.
  • Costello D.P., and C. Henley 1971. Methods for obtaining and handling marine eggs and embryos. Marine Biological Laboratory, Woods Hole, MA (Second Edition).
  • Did?iulis V. 2007. NOBANIS Invasive Alien Species Fact Sheet - Teredo navalis In: Online Database of the North European and Baltic Network on Invasive Alien Species. Available online.
  • Distel D.L., Beaudoin D., and W. Morrill. 2002. Coexistence of multiple proteobacterial endosymbionts in the gills of the wood-boring bivalve Lyrodus pedicellatus (Bivalvia: Teredinidae). Applied Environmental Microbiology 68:6292-6299.
  • Distel D.L., DeLong, E.F., and J.B. Waterbury. 1991. Phylogenetic characterization and in situ localization of the bacterial symbiont of shipworms (Teredinidae: Bivalvia) by using 16S rRNA sequence analysis and oligodeoxynucleotide probe hybridization. Applied Environmental Microbiology 57:2376-2382.
  • Forbes E., and R.A.C. Godwin-Austen. 1959. The Natural History of the European Seas. 1977 reprint, Arno Press, NY. 306 p.
  • Gallager S.M., Turner, R.D., and C.J. Berg. 1981. Physiological aspects of wood consumption, growth, and reproduction in the shipworm Lyrodus pedicellatus Quatrefages. Journal of Experimental Marine Biology and Ecology 52:63-77.
  • Grave B.H. 1928. Natural history of shipworm, Teredo navalis, at Woods Hole, Massachusetts, Biological Bulletin 55:260-282.
  • Grave B.H. 1942. The sexual cycle of the shipworm, Teredo navalis. Biological Bulletin 82:438-445.
  • Lane C.E. 1959. Some aspects of the general biology of Teredo. pp. 137-144 in: Ray D.L. (Ed.) Marine Boring and Fouling Organisms. University of Washington Press, Seatle, WA. 534 p.
  • Mann R., and S.M. Gallager. 1985. Growth, morphometry and biochemical composition of the wood boring molluscs Teredo navalis L., Bankia gouldi (Bartsch), and Nototeredo knoxi (Bartsch) (Bivalvia: Teredinidae). Journal of Experimental Marine Biology and Ecology 85:229-251.
  • NIMPIS. 2002. Teredo navalis species summary. CSIRO National Introduced Marine Pest Information System (Hewitt C.L., Martin R.B., Sliwa C., McEnnulty, F.R., Murphy, N.E., Jones T. and S. Cooper Eds). Available online.
  • Popham J.D., and M.R. Dikson. 1973. Bacterial associations in the teredo Bankia australis (Lamellibranchia: Molusca). Marine Biology 19:338-340.
  • Reise K., Gollasch S., and W.J. Wolff. 1999. Introduced marine species of the North Sea coasts., Helgol?nder Meeresuntersuchungen 52:219-234.
  • Richards B.R., R.E. Hillman, and N.J. Maciolek. 1984. Shipworms, Pp. 201-225 in: Kennish M.J., and R.A. Lutz (Eds.). Lecture Notes on Coastal and Estuarine Studies - Ecology of Barnegat Bay, New Jersey. Springer-Verlag. New York. 396 p.
  • Rowley S.J., 2005. Teredo navalis. Great shipworm. Marine Life Information Network: Biology and Sensitivity Key Information Sub-programme. Plymouth: Marine Biological Association of the United Kingdom. Available online.
  • Scheltema R.S., and R.V. Truitt. 1954. Ecological factors related to the distribution of Bankia gouldi Bartsch in Chesapeake Bay, Chesapeake Biological Laboratory Publication 100:1-31.
  • Tuente U., Piepenburg D., and M. Spindler. 2002. Occurrence and settlement of the common shipworm Teredo navalis (Bivalvia: Teredinidae) in Bremerhaven harbours, northern Germany. Helgoland Marine Research. Vol. 56:87-94.
  • Turner R.D. 1966. A survey and illustrated catalogue of the Teredinidae (Mollusca: Bivalvia). The Museum of Comparative Zoology, Harvard University, Cambridge. 265 p.
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The mating season takes place from May to October; mating is cued by the warming of the ocean water and the increase of its salinity to above 12%. During the course of a mating season, a single female can spawn several times, releasing between one and five million eggs. Not all of the eggs released are fertilized by sperm released from the male (and carried by the water to the eggs); those that are develop as embryos in the female's gill chamber before becoming free-swimming larvae (Coe 1941: 170-1).

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Growth

Teredo navalis larvae are brooded within the gills until a velum and a straight-hinged shell have formed at which time they are released to the water column. Duration of the planktonic phase appears in debate, with various authors citing a period ranging from less than 4 days to as much as 2-4 weeks. While residing in the plankton the larva develop siphons, gills and a prominent foot (Costello and Henley 1971, NIMPIS 2002, Did?iulis 2007).At settlement, T. navalis individuals undergo a rapid metamorphosis during which the larval velum is shed and consumed (Lane 1959, Did?iulis 2007).
  • B?nsch R., and F. Gosselck 1994. Untersuchungen zum Befall der Buhnen durch Teredo navalis Linnaeus 1758 (Molusca: Bivalvia) an der Ostseek?ste Mecklenburg-Vorpommerns. Gutachten im Auftrag des Staatlichen Amtes Rostock, S. 1-16
  • Carlton J.T., and M.H. Ruckelshaus. 1997. Nonindigenous marine invertebrates and algae. Pp 187-201 in: Simberloff D., Schmitz D.C., and T.C. Brown (eds). Strangers in Paradise. Island Press, Washington, D.C. 467 p.
  • Coe W.R. 1941. Sexual phases in wood-boring mollusks. Biological Bulletin 81:168-176.
  • Cohen A.N. 2004. Invasions in the Sea. National Park Service ParkScience Magazine 22:37-41.
  • Cohen A.N., and J.T. Carlton. 1995. Nonindigenous aquatic species in a United States estuary: a case study of the biological Invasions of the San Francisco Bay and Delta. A Report for the United States Fish and Wildlife Service, Washington D.C. and the National Sea Grant College Program, Connecticut Sea Grant.
  • Costello D.P., and C. Henley 1971. Methods for obtaining and handling marine eggs and embryos. Marine Biological Laboratory, Woods Hole, MA (Second Edition).
  • Did?iulis V. 2007. NOBANIS Invasive Alien Species Fact Sheet - Teredo navalis In: Online Database of the North European and Baltic Network on Invasive Alien Species. Available online.
  • Distel D.L., Beaudoin D., and W. Morrill. 2002. Coexistence of multiple proteobacterial endosymbionts in the gills of the wood-boring bivalve Lyrodus pedicellatus (Bivalvia: Teredinidae). Applied Environmental Microbiology 68:6292-6299.
  • Distel D.L., DeLong, E.F., and J.B. Waterbury. 1991. Phylogenetic characterization and in situ localization of the bacterial symbiont of shipworms (Teredinidae: Bivalvia) by using 16S rRNA sequence analysis and oligodeoxynucleotide probe hybridization. Applied Environmental Microbiology 57:2376-2382.
  • Forbes E., and R.A.C. Godwin-Austen. 1959. The Natural History of the European Seas. 1977 reprint, Arno Press, NY. 306 p.
  • Gallager S.M., Turner, R.D., and C.J. Berg. 1981. Physiological aspects of wood consumption, growth, and reproduction in the shipworm Lyrodus pedicellatus Quatrefages. Journal of Experimental Marine Biology and Ecology 52:63-77.
  • Grave B.H. 1928. Natural history of shipworm, Teredo navalis, at Woods Hole, Massachusetts, Biological Bulletin 55:260-282.
  • Grave B.H. 1942. The sexual cycle of the shipworm, Teredo navalis. Biological Bulletin 82:438-445.
  • Lane C.E. 1959. Some aspects of the general biology of Teredo. pp. 137-144 in: Ray D.L. (Ed.) Marine Boring and Fouling Organisms. University of Washington Press, Seatle, WA. 534 p.
  • Mann R., and S.M. Gallager. 1985. Growth, morphometry and biochemical composition of the wood boring molluscs Teredo navalis L., Bankia gouldi (Bartsch), and Nototeredo knoxi (Bartsch) (Bivalvia: Teredinidae). Journal of Experimental Marine Biology and Ecology 85:229-251.
  • NIMPIS. 2002. Teredo navalis species summary. CSIRO National Introduced Marine Pest Information System (Hewitt C.L., Martin R.B., Sliwa C., McEnnulty, F.R., Murphy, N.E., Jones T. and S. Cooper Eds). Available online.
  • Popham J.D., and M.R. Dikson. 1973. Bacterial associations in the teredo Bankia australis (Lamellibranchia: Molusca). Marine Biology 19:338-340.
  • Reise K., Gollasch S., and W.J. Wolff. 1999. Introduced marine species of the North Sea coasts., Helgol?nder Meeresuntersuchungen 52:219-234.
  • Richards B.R., R.E. Hillman, and N.J. Maciolek. 1984. Shipworms, Pp. 201-225 in: Kennish M.J., and R.A. Lutz (Eds.). Lecture Notes on Coastal and Estuarine Studies - Ecology of Barnegat Bay, New Jersey. Springer-Verlag. New York. 396 p.
  • Rowley S.J., 2005. Teredo navalis. Great shipworm. Marine Life Information Network: Biology and Sensitivity Key Information Sub-programme. Plymouth: Marine Biological Association of the United Kingdom. Available online.
  • Scheltema R.S., and R.V. Truitt. 1954. Ecological factors related to the distribution of Bankia gouldi Bartsch in Chesapeake Bay, Chesapeake Biological Laboratory Publication 100:1-31.
  • Tuente U., Piepenburg D., and M. Spindler. 2002. Occurrence and settlement of the common shipworm Teredo navalis (Bivalvia: Teredinidae) in Bremerhaven harbours, northern Germany. Helgoland Marine Research. Vol. 56:87-94.
  • Turner R.D. 1966. A survey and illustrated catalogue of the Teredinidae (Mollusca: Bivalvia). The Museum of Comparative Zoology, Harvard University, Cambridge. 265 p.
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Evolution and Systematics

Evolution

The fossil record indicates that the shipworm family Teredinidae has been in existence since the Eocene (56-34 million years ago).

Molecular phylogeny of Teredinidae has slightly revised Turner's classification based on morphological characters that distinguished the genera by the shape of their siphons and pallets (Santos et al 2005, Turner 1966). These changes have grouped the genera in two subfamilies (Teredinidae and Bankiinae): Teredinidae includes 14 different genera, the subfamily Teredininae has nine of these (including Teredo). Within Teredininae, the genus closest to Teredo morphologically and molecularly is Lyrodus.

Presently there are around 50 different species of Teredo worldwide, but Teredo navalis remains the most common species by far (Santos et al 2005).

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Molecular Biology and Genetics

Molecular Biology

Genomic DNA is available from 2 specimens with morphological vouchers housed at British Antarctic Survey
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Conservation

Conservation Status

The conservation status of T. navalis has not been evaluated.

US Federal List: no special status

CITES: no special status

State of Michigan List: no special status

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There is no effort in place to conserve Teredo navalis, nor is there a desire for one. In areas where there are fewer wooden ships available one would expect to see the shipworm return to natural sources of wood (e.g. driftwood, mangroves, etc.).

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Relevance to Humans and Ecosystems

Benefits

Naval shipworms have many negative effects due to their wood boring activity. They have been noted to cause damage in ships and dikes. Weakening of dike gates, combined with a heavy storm, resulted in flooding of the Netherlands in 1731. Teredo navalis also eat away at piers and wharfs. In San Francisco Bay, they can cause 200 million dollars worth of damage yearly.

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There are not any mentioned effects of T. navalis that are positive to humans. They do serve as food for Australian natives.

Positive Impacts: food

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Teredo navalis' impact on humans has been entirely negative, responsible for compromising the seaworthiness of wooden ships from the earliest days of their construction (Dore and Miller 1923: 389).

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Wikipedia

Teredo navalis

Teredo navalis, the naval shipworm, is a species of saltwater clam, a marine bivalve mollusc in the family Teredinidae, the shipworms. This species is the type species of the genus Teredo. Like other species in this family, this bivalve is called a shipworm because it resembles a worm in general appearance, but at the anterior end it has a small shell of two valves which is specialised to bore through wood.

This species may have originated in the northeast Atlantic Ocean, but has spread around the world. It tunnels into underwater piers and pilings and is a major cause of damage and destruction to submarine timber structures and the hulls of wooden boats.

Around 1830 in the Netherlands, shipworms were found to be seriously weakening the wooden dike revetments. To prevent flooding disasters, the revetments had to be replaced with heavy stones, at great expense.

Description[edit]

Teredo navalis has an elongated, reddish, wormlike body which is completely enclosed in a tunnel it has made in floating or submerged timber. At the front end of the animal are two triangular, calcareous plates. These are up to 2 cm (0.8 in) long and correspond to the valves of other bivalve molluscs. They are white, with a covering of pale brown periostracum, and have rough ridges. The mollusc uses them to rasp the wood and slowly enlarges the burrow in which it lives. It has retractable inhalant and exhalant siphons which project through a small hole in the horny septum which blocks the opening of the burrow. When the animal is threatened, the siphons can be drawn inside the burrow and protected by a pair of calcareous oar-like pallets. The tunnel is circular in cross section and is lined with calcareous material extruded by the mollusc. It can be up to 60 cm (24 in) long and 1 cm (0.4 in) in diameter.[2][3]

Distribution and habitat[edit]

Teredo navalis is found in temperate and tropical seas and oceans worldwide.[1] It may have originated in the northeast Atlantic Ocean, but it is difficult now to establish from where it originally came because it has spread so efficiently around the world. It is found in the littoral zone, living inside submerged timber, pilings, driftwood, and the hulls of wooden boats.[2] It is found in brackish waters as well as the open sea, and tolerates salinities ranging from five to thirty-five parts per thousand.[3] It is also tolerant of a wide range of temperatures. Individuals have survived temperatures as high as 30 °C (86 °F) and as low as 1 °C (34 °F), though growth and reproduction are restricted to the range from 11 °C (52 °F) to 25 °C (77 °F).[3] It can also live without air for about 6 weeks, using up its stored glycogen reserves.[3] Dispersal to new habitats occurs both during the free-living larval stage, by floating timbers carried along by currents, and, historically, from the hulls of wooden vessels. In the Baltic Sea, there were several mass occurrences in the 1930s and 1950s.[4] However, the low salinity in the northern Baltic Sea keeps the shipworm out. Thus, shipwrecks in the northern Baltic can be preserved for long periods of time.

Biology[edit]

Food particles, mostly timber raspings but also some microalgae, are extracted from the water passing through the gills where gas exchange also takes place. The gills also contain symbiotic nitrogen-fixing bacteria, which produce enzymes that help to digest the cellulose in the wood.[2] Waste, reproductive gametes, and larvae are discharged through the back of the burrow, which is open to the sea through a narrow aperture.[5]

Teredo navalis is a protandrous hermaphrodite. All individuals start their adult life as males, becoming mature when they are a few centimetres long, releasing sperm into the sea. In warmer areas they change into females about 8 to 10 weeks after settling, but this change may take six months before it occurs in colder climates. The eggs are fertilised when sperm gets sucked into the burrow of a female through the inhalant siphon. More than a million larvae at a time are brooded in the gill chamber, after which they are released into the sea as veliger larvae. By this time they have developed a velum, a ciliated locomotory and feeding organ, and the rudiments of a straight-hinged shell. They eat phytoplankton and disperse with the current for 2 to 3 weeks. During further larval stages they develop siphons and gills.

When they are ready to undergo metamorphosis, they search for suitable timber on which to settle. They seem to be able to detect rotting wood and are able to swim towards it when they are close enough. Each one then crawls around until it finds a suitable location where it attaches itself with a byssus thread. It may secrete an enzyme to soften the wood before starting to dig with its foot. When it has formed a hollow, it undergoes a rapid metamorphosis, shedding and consuming the velum and becoming a juvenile shipworm with small horny valves at the anterior end. It can then begin to dig more efficiently. It bores deeper into the wood and spends the rest of its life as a tunneller.[6]

Economic effects[edit]

Destruction by Teredo worm in a tree branch.

Teredo navalis is a very destructive pest of submerged timber. In the Baltic Sea, pine trees can become riddled with tunnels within 16 weeks of being in the water and oaks within 32 weeks, with whole trees 30 centimetres (12 in) in diameter being completely warped within a year. Ships' timbers are attacked, wrecks destroyed and sea defences damaged. In the Netherlands in the 18th century, the dikes of earth and wood providing sea defence were destroyed and the timber had to be replaced by stone at great expense. The shipworm's arrival in San Francisco Bay around 1920 heralded great destruction to the piers and wharves of harbours. It has spread in the Pacific Ocean where its greater tolerance of low salinity levels has caused damage in areas previously unaffected by native shipworms.[4]

In the eighteenth century the British Royal Navy resorted to covering the bottoms of its ships with copper in an attempt to prevent the damage caused by shipworm, giving rise to the expression "copper-bottomed".[7] Shipworms penetrated the copper sheathing at the nail holes, however, making the effort an expensive failure.

No treatment of timber to prevent attack by Teredo navalis has been completely successful. Experiments by the Dutch in the 19th century proved the inefficacy of linseed oil, metallic paint, powdered glass, carbonization (i.e., burning the outer layers of the wood), and any of the usual biocides such as chromated copper arsenate. They also attempted covering wooden pylons with precisely arranged iron nails, but this too had no lasting effect. In 1878 it was discovered that creosote was an effective deterrent, though to work best it had to be applied to soft, resinous woods like pine-- in order to work on harder woods such as oak, special care had to be taken to ensure the wood was completely permeated by the creosote.[8] Submerged wrecks have been protected by wrapping them in geotextiles to provide a physical barrier to the larvae or by reburying them in the sediment. The only permanent solution to attack by Teredo navalis, however, is to replace wood in submerged constructions with some other material.[4]

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b Rosenberg, Gary (2010). "Teredo navalis Linnaeus, 1758". World Register of Marine Species. Retrieved 2012-04-13. 
  2. ^ a b c Teredo navalis Linnaeus, 1758 – Naval shipworm SeaLifeBase. Retrieved 2012-04-13.
  3. ^ a b c d Teredo navalis – Naval Shipworm Smithsonian Marine Station at Fort Pierce. Retrieved 2012-04-13.
  4. ^ a b c Teredo navalis NOBANIS – Invasive Alien Species Fact Sheet. <Retrieved 2012-04-13.
  5. ^ Shipworm Encyclopædia Britannica Online. Retrieved 2012-04-13.
  6. ^ Shipworm lifecycle Küstenbiologie Kai Hoppe. Retrieved 2012-04-13.
  7. ^ Harris, J. R. (1966). "Copper and shipping in the eighteenth century" (PDF). The Economic History Review 19 (3): 550–68. doi:10.1111/j.1468-0289.1966.tb00988.x. 
  8. ^ Eduard Hendrik van Baumhauer (1878). The Teredo Navalis, and the Means of Preserving Wood from Its Ravages. 
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