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Overview

Brief Summary

Biology

M. balthica has separate sexes. The main breeding period lies between February and May, with a second spawning in autumn. The free-swimming veliger larva has a pelagic life of up to seven or eight weeks. When growth is fast, longevity is about three years, but in slow growing populations specimens live for six or seven years (Fish & Fish, 1989; Zwarts et al., 1992).

The bivalve lives buried below the surface, maintaining contact with the overlying water by means of the inhalant and exhalant siphons (Brafield & Newell, 1961; Fish & Fish, 1989). M. balthica is capable of deposit as well as suspension feeding (Brafield & Newell, 1961; Wolff, 1973; Fish & Fish, 1989). M. balthica is able to withstand low winter temperatures. In the Dutch Wadden Sea its abundance increases after cold winters (Beukema, 1979; Beukema & Essink, 1986).
The species is an important prey item for birds such as the knot (Zwarts & Blomert, 1992; Zwarts et al., 1992).

  • Holtmann, S.E.; Groenewold, A.; Schrader, K.H.M.; Asjes, J.; Craeymeersch, J.A.; Duineveld, G.C.A.; van Bostelen, A.J.; van der Meer, J. (1996). Atlas of the zoobenthos of the Dutch continental shelf. Ministry of Transport, Public Works and Water Management: Rijswijk, The Netherlands. ISBN 90-369-4301-9. 243 pp.
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The Baltic tellin lives dug into muddy or sandy sea bottoms of the tidal flats and coastal waters. Only its suction tubes extend beyond the the surface. These tubes are often nibbled upon by flatfish. The older they get, the deeper they dig themselves in. Baltic tellin shells are commonly found on the beach. They are often very colorful.
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Comprehensive Description

Description

 Macoma balthica is widely distributed throughout north-west Europe and Britain. It has a plump almost circular shell, up to 25 mm in length, with umbones close to the midline. The posterior of the shell may be very slightly tapered. The colour of Macoma balthica varies between pink, purple, yellow, white and may be blackened in sulphide-rich sediments. The colour is either uniform throughout the shell or in concentric bands.
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Distribution

occurs (regularly, as a native taxon) in multiple nations

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National Distribution

United States

Origin: Exotic

Regularity: Regularly occurring

Currently: Present

Confidence: Confident

Type of Residency: Year-round

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Global Range: (>2,500,000 square km (greater than 1,000,000 square miles)) Circumboreal. From the Beaufort Sea, Alaska, south to San Francisco Bay, California. Also occurs throughout the Bering and Okhotsk Seas to Japan. Off northern Europe, occurs in the North Sea (England, Norway and Denmark), Baltic Sea, Barents Sea, White Sea, in the waters of the Faroe Islands north to Iceland (but no records from Greenland), and as far south as Spain. On the western Atlantic coast, present from Labrador to Georgia (Bernard 1979, Coan et al. 2000, Vainola 2003).

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Macoma balthica typically occurs in the coastal zone of the Belgian part of the North Sea. In the 1976-1986 period only low densities were observed (up to 10 ind./m2) whereas densities up to 170 ind./m2 were found in the 1994-2001 period. In this period the highest densities seemed to occur near the eastern coastal zone.
  • Degraer S., J. Wittoeck, W. Appeltans, K. Cooreman, T. Deprez, H. Hillewaert, K. Hostens, J. Mees, E. Vanden Berghe & M. Vincx (2006). The macrobenthos atlas of the Belgian part of the North Sea. Belgian Science Policy. D/2005/1191/3. ISBN 90-810081-6-1. 164 pp.
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M. balthica occurs from the upper part of the intertidal down to the shallow subtidal zone. In the study area it is confined to the Wadden Sea, the Delta estuaries and a narrow zone along the coast. It has not been recorded from depths over 25 m in the open North Sea. The highest biomasses are found along the Dutch coast and north of Ameland and Schiermonnikoog.
  • Holtmann, S.E.; Groenewold, A.; Schrader, K.H.M.; Asjes, J.; Craeymeersch, J.A.; Duineveld, G.C.A.; van Bostelen, A.J.; van der Meer, J. (1996). Atlas of the zoobenthos of the Dutch continental shelf. Ministry of Transport, Public Works and Water Management: Rijswijk, The Netherlands. ISBN 90-369-4301-9. 243 pp.
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Arctic seas to off Georgia
  • North-West Atlantic Ocean species (NWARMS)
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Physical Description

Size

Length: 2 cm

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Diagnostic Description

Description

A rather thick, broadly oval shell up to 30 mm long. The top of the shell is somewhere in the middle of the shell. The back is slightly acuminate. The shell surface is smooth with very fine concentric growth lines. Its colour varies: white, yellow, orange to reddish. They burrow shallowly in fine, muddy sand bottoms and feed on food particles located on top of the sediment that they manage to suck up by means of their very long, individually separated stretchable siphons.
  • Degraer S., J. Wittoeck, W. Appeltans, K. Cooreman, T. Deprez, H. Hillewaert, K. Hostens, J. Mees, E. Vanden Berghe & M. Vincx (2006). The macrobenthos atlas of the Belgian part of the North Sea. Belgian Science Policy. D/2005/1191/3. ISBN 90-810081-6-1. 164 pp.
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Morphology

M. balthica has a broadly oval shell, somewhat inflated anteriorly. lt is up to 25 mm in length. The shell surface is smooth, sculptured with very fine concentric lines. The growth stages are clearly visible, usually marked by bands of colour. lt is very variable in colour, with shades of white, yellow, pink or purple, often drawn out in concentric bands. The interior of the shell is white or purple, or a shade of the external colour (Tebble, 1966; Fish & Fish, 1989; Hayward & Ryland, 1990).
  • Holtmann, S.E.; Groenewold, A.; Schrader, K.H.M.; Asjes, J.; Craeymeersch, J.A.; Duineveld, G.C.A.; van Bostelen, A.J.; van der Meer, J. (1996). Atlas of the zoobenthos of the Dutch continental shelf. Ministry of Transport, Public Works and Water Management: Rijswijk, The Netherlands. ISBN 90-369-4301-9. 243 pp.
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Ecology

Habitat

Comments: Intertidal zone to 40 m, usually buried shallowly (to 20 cm, but usually within 5 cm of surface) in mud or silt, generally in bays and estuaries with lowered salinity (Dames and Moore 1979, Harbo 1997, O'Clair and O'Clair 1998, Coan et al. 2000). Burrowing depth varies throughout the year, generally shallow in spring/early summer and deeper in late fall/early winter (Edelaar et al. 2002).

In Alaska, associated with fine, soft-bottom sediments of quiet bays, estuaries, and occasionally inland rivers (Bernard 1979, Field and Field 1999, ADFG 2000). In Upper Cook Inlet, thrives in muddy areas near river sources and in the lee of promontories (Lees et al. 2001). At the Copper River Delta, highest densities were recorded where tidal inundation occurred for the longest time (Powers et al. 2002).

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Macoma balthica tends to prefer very fine sediments (median grain size < 200 µm) with high mud contents (> 20%). The maximum relative occurrence (80%!) is reached in sediments with a median grain size of 0-50 µm and a mud content of 50-60%.
  • Degraer S., J. Wittoeck, W. Appeltans, K. Cooreman, T. Deprez, H. Hillewaert, K. Hostens, J. Mees, E. Vanden Berghe & M. Vincx (2006). The macrobenthos atlas of the Belgian part of the North Sea. Belgian Science Policy. D/2005/1191/3. ISBN 90-810081-6-1. 164 pp.
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M. balthica occurs in muddy sediments with a preference for relatively high silt-clay percentages.
  • Holtmann, S.E.; Groenewold, A.; Schrader, K.H.M.; Asjes, J.; Craeymeersch, J.A.; Duineveld, G.C.A.; van Bostelen, A.J.; van der Meer, J. (1996). Atlas of the zoobenthos of the Dutch continental shelf. Ministry of Transport, Public Works and Water Management: Rijswijk, The Netherlands. ISBN 90-369-4301-9. 243 pp.
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Known from seamounts and knolls
  • Stocks, K. 2009. Seamounts Online: an online information system for seamount biology. Version 2009-1. World Wide Web electronic publication.
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intertidal, bathyal, infralittoral and circalittoral of the Gulf and estuary
  • North-West Atlantic Ocean species (NWARMS)
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Depth range based on 4636 specimens in 1 taxon.
Water temperature and chemistry ranges based on 256 samples.

Environmental ranges
  Depth range (m): -99 - 403
  Temperature range (°C): -0.245 - 24.665
  Nitrate (umol/L): 0.325 - 17.366
  Salinity (PPS): 6.151 - 36.027
  Oxygen (ml/l): 2.113 - 8.660
  Phosphate (umol/l): 0.048 - 1.790
  Silicate (umol/l): 0.756 - 50.947

Graphical representation

Depth range (m): -99 - 403

Temperature range (°C): -0.245 - 24.665

Nitrate (umol/L): 0.325 - 17.366

Salinity (PPS): 6.151 - 36.027

Oxygen (ml/l): 2.113 - 8.660

Phosphate (umol/l): 0.048 - 1.790

Silicate (umol/l): 0.756 - 50.947
 
Note: this information has not been validated. Check this *note*. Your feedback is most welcome.

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 Macoma balthica lives a few centimetres below the surface of sand, mud and muddy sand. It is found from the upper regions of the intertidal into the sublittoral, particularly in estuaries and on tidal flats.
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Migration

Non-Migrant: No. All populations of this species make significant seasonal migrations.

Locally Migrant: Yes. At least some populations of this species make local extended movements (generally less than 200 km) at particular times of the year (e.g., to breeding or wintering grounds, to hibernation sites).

Locally Migrant: No. No populations of this species make annual migrations of over 200 km.

Dispersal takes place during the 2-5 week larval phase. During the first winter, may drift with the use of a mucoid thread (Luttikhuizen et al. 2003). In the Wadden Sea, post-larvae migrate to nurseries on high, silty tidal flats. After the first growth season, juveniles return to low intertidal and subtidal flats (generally between December and March; Hiddink and Wolfe 2002). The observed migration to and from nurseries in the Wadden Sea is presumably an adaptation to avoid predation by shrimp on juveniles and parasitic infection of adults (Hiddink 2003).

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Trophic Strategy

Comments: Feeds on detritus from sediment surface using incurrent siphon. Sediments up to 6 cm from the burrow may be taken and ingested. Also a suspension feeder when currents are strong or where it occurs in clean sand substrate. Marine clams are able to turn over large quantities of sediment in a short time period; this process increases the flow of solutes from the sediment into the water and stimulates growth of diatoms and other microalgae and bacteria, thereby enhancing their own food resources (O'Clair and O'Clair 1998).

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Associations

Known predators

  • Hall SJ, Raffaelli D (1991) Food-web patterns: lessons from a species-rich web. J Anim Ecol 60:823–842
  • Huxham M, Beany S, Raffaelli D (1996) Do parasites reduce the chances of triangulation in a real food web? Oikos 76:284–300
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Known prey organisms

Macoma balthica (Macoma balthica clam) preys on:
POM

Based on studies in:
Scotland (Estuarine)

This list may not be complete but is based on published studies.
  • Hall SJ, Raffaelli D (1991) Food-web patterns: lessons from a species-rich web. J Anim Ecol 60:823–842
  • Huxham M, Beany S, Raffaelli D (1996) Do parasites reduce the chances of triangulation in a real food web? Oikos 76:284–300
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Population Biology

Number of Occurrences

Note: For many non-migratory species, occurrences are roughly equivalent to populations.

Estimated Number of Occurrences: > 300

Comments: Locally abundant. The dominant infaunal organism of a number of tidal flats, including the Copper River Delta, Kachemak Bay, Dayville and Island Flats at the head of Port Valdez, and Upper Cook Inlet, where densities of over 4,000 individuals/m² have been recorded (Dames and Moore 1979, Naidu et al. 1991, Lees et al. 2001, Powers et al. 2002). Elsewhere, densities (individuals/m²) at Chinitna Bay were between 2,600 and 4,600 (Dames and Moore 1979), 1,000 at the West Foreland, 450 at Chickaloon Bay, 2.4 at Kalifornsky Beach in Upper Cook Inlet (Lees et al. 2001), and 182 at Three Saints Bay, Kodiak Island (Nybakken 1969).

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General Ecology

An important food source for coastal birds, especially during winter and migration stopover. Predators include ducks, shorebirds, and gulls. The preferred and principle prey during winter for Red Knot (Calidris canutus) and comprises the entire diet of the Pribilof Rock Sandpiper (Calidris ptilocnemis ptilocnemis) while wintering in Cook Inlet, Alaska (Reading and McGrorty 1978, Dames and Moore 1979, Zwarts and Blomert 1992, Rosier 1993, O'Clair and O'Clair 1998, Field and Field 1999, De Goeij 2001, Lees et al. 2001, Edelaar et al. 2002, Gill et al. 2002, Richman and Lovvorn 2003, Warnock et al. 2004). Siphons can be nipped off by bottom fish, crabs and shrimp, and constitute an important food for commercially important King (Paralithodes camtschaticus) and tanner crab (Chionoecetes bairdi) in Alaska (Weihs and Burrell 1978). The isopod Saduria entomon preys on both adult and newly settled juvenile clams (Lees et al. 2001).

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Life History and Behavior

Reproduction

Sexually mature at 8 to 10 mm; spawns late March and April (O'Clair and O'Clair 1998). Eggs and larvae are pelagic for a short period (2-5 weeks; Luttikhuizen et al. 2003). In England, most settlement of young clams occurs in April and May (O'Clair and O'Clair 1998). May live as long as 8 years with reduced growth and increased longevity at higher latitudes (e.g., Copper River Delta, Alaska; see Powers et al. 2002).

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Molecular Biology and Genetics

Molecular Biology

Statistics of barcoding coverage: Macoma balthica

Barcode of Life Data Systems (BOLDS) Stats
Public Records: 27
Specimens with Barcodes: 61
Species With Barcodes: 1
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Barcode data: Macoma balthica

The following is a representative barcode sequence, the centroid of all available sequences for this species.


There are 27 barcode sequences available from BOLD and GenBank.  Below is a sequence of the barcode region Cytochrome oxidase subunit 1 (COI or COX1) from a member of the species.  See the BOLD taxonomy browser for more complete information about this specimen and other sequences.

TACAGGACTATAATGCGTACAGAGTTAATACATCCAGGTTCTTTTTATGGTGAG------TCAGTTTATAATGTTTTAGTGACTTCACATGGTTTACTAATAATTTTTTTTATAGTAATGCCTTTAATAATTGGATTTTTTGGTAATTGGGCTGTTCCCCTTTTA---TTAGCTGCACCTGATATAGTTTTTGCTCGTCTTAATAATCTTAGCTTTTGGTTACTTCCTGCGGCTACTATTTTATTGCTAATATCTAATGAAGTGGAGGAAGGAGTTGGGACGGGTTGAACACTTTACCCCCCTTTATCTGCTTGATTAGGTCATCCTGCTCCAGCGATGGAGTTTATA---ATTTTAGGGCTACATATTGCTGGAATATCTTCTATTTTTGCAAGAATTAATTTCGTAACTACAGGTGCTAATATGCGACCTGAGGGGGTGGCTCCTCAGCGAACTACCTTGTTTGTGGTCTCAGTGGTAATTACATCATTTTTACTGGTGGTTGCCATACCCGTACTAGCTGCC---GGCTTAACTATACTTCTTACTGACCGAAATTTTAATACTTCTTTTTTTGACCCG---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------GT
-- end --

Download FASTA File
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Conservation

Conservation Status

National NatureServe Conservation Status

United States

Rounded National Status Rank: NNA - Not Applicable

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NatureServe Conservation Status

Rounded Global Status Rank: G5 - Secure

Reasons: Widespread and locally abundant. Rising sea water temperatures have resulted in lower reproductive output and smaller stocks in northern Europe; effects of climate change elsewhere unknown but of concern.

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Global Short Term Trend: Relatively stable to increase of 25%

Comments: At Dayville Flats, Port Valdez, numbers of large M. balthica clams increased substantially between 1989-92; prior to that, low abundance of large clams was noted in 1971-72; small clam abundance also increased in 1989-1992 relative to 1971-1972, but to a lesser extent. The low numbers of large clams recorded during 1971-72 may have been due to population decline following the 1964 earthquake, which completely removed all fauna from the Dayville Flats (Naidu et al. 1992). The larger numbers recorded between 1989 and 1992 may more closely represent a recovered stock at or near equilibrium (Naidu et al. 1992).

Global Long Term Trend: Unknown

Comments: Unknown

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Threats

Degree of Threat: Low

Comments: Potential threats include exposure to and bioaccumulation of toxins and heavy metals released from industrial waste (Coan et al. 2000), habitat destruction as a result of intertidal dredging through commercial fishing (Collie et al. 2000), commercial and residential development (Salomon et al. 2004), and erosion as a result of road construction (Myren and Pella 1977, Naidu et al. 1992). In the North Sea, rising seawater temperatures caused by climate change are already affecting M. balthica stocks by lowering reproductive output and shifting the spawning period to an earlier time of year (Philippart et al. 2003). In some areas, predation by migrating shorebirds may be intense (Lees et al. 2001, Powers et al. 2002).

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Management

Biological Research Needs: Research needed on the impacts of contaminants and disease on local populations (Salomon et al. 2004). Detrimental effects of climate change on M. balthica have been documented elsewhere (Philippart et al. 2003), but the impact on marine clams in Alaska is not understood; needs study (Salomon et al. 2004). A better understanding of trophic linkages within the benthic community is also needed (Powers et al. 2002).

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Needs: Protected under the Coastal Zone Management Act (CZMA; NOAA 1996). The Outer Continental Shelf Lands Act (OCSLA) mandates that orderly development of Outer Continental Shelf resources be balanced with protection of human, marine, and coastal environments and any project that could adversely impact the Coastal Zone is subject to federal consistency requirements under the CZMA (Committee on Environment and Public Works 2000a).

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Relevance to Humans and Ecosystems

Risks

Stewardship Overview: Salomon et al. (2004) suggest an ecosystem-based approach that encompasses ecological relationships among species, trophic levels and habitats as the most effective way to conserve and manage this species and others in nearshore soft benthic ecosystems.

Because of its slow, prolonged response to contamination, M. balthica has been used as an indicator species to monitor long-term effects of pollution in brackish environments (Broman and Ganning 1986). In Alaska, M. balthica has been used as an indicator species for oil contamination in Port Valdez because of its wide distribution and abundance, importance to migratory birds, and sediment feeding habit (Myren and Pella 1977, Shaw et al. 1977). In Cook Inlet, it is one of two suitable candidates for assessing chronic contamination of sediments (Lees et al. 2001).

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Wikipedia

Macoma balthica

Macoma balthica, commonly called the Baltic macoma, Baltic clam or Baltic tellin,[1][2] is a small saltwater clam, a marine bivalve mollusk in the family Tellinidae (the macomas and tellins).

Appearance[edit]

The shells are smooth, relatively flat, oval or somewhat trigonal in shape, and usually less than 20–30 mm long. The shell color is polymorphic, varying between individuals and between localities. Often most specimens are white, sometimes most are pink, and also yellow and orange shells may occur. Color is best visible in worn-out dead shells and inside the shell. Concentric growth rings indicating the age of the specimen are often clearly visible.

Ecology and habitat[edit]

Macoma is an infaunal bivalve, living buried in the mud or silt, and extending its two narrow siphons to the bottom surface. Through the siphons, it feeds on organic matter on the sediment surface or in the water.

Macoma is a euryhaline species, capable of living in a wide range of water salinity, down to 3-4 permille, i.e. 10% of ocean salinity. It usually lives in the intertidal or shallow subtidal. In the brackish Baltic Sea it lives submerged down to depths over 100m.

Distribution[edit]

Macoma balthica lives in the northern parts of both the Atlantic and Pacific oceans, and also extends to the Subarctic both in North America and in Europe. The European distribution ranges from southern France north to the White Sea and Pechora Sea, and also includes the inner brackish parts of the Baltic Sea.[3] In eastern North America, M. balthica is distributed from the Gulf of St. Lawrence Bay north to Hudson Bay, in the Pacific from Washington to the Beaufort Sea in Alaska, and also on the Russian coast. Along the U.S. Atlantic and Pacific coasts (Oregon to south), M. balthica is replaced by a similar species Macoma petalum.[2]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Gofas, S. (2010). Macoma balthica (Linnaeus, 1758). In: Bouchet, P.; Gofas, S.; Rosenberg, G. (2010) World Marine Mollusca database. World Register of Marine Species (accessed 2010-11-27)
  2. ^ a b Baltic macoma Alaska Department of Fish and Game, species fact sheet.
  3. ^ Strelkov P, Nikula R, Vainola R (2007) Macoma balthica in the White and Barents Seas: properties of a widespread marine hybrid swarm (Mollusca: Bivalvia). - Molecular Ecology, 16, 4110-4127, doi:10.1111/j.1365-294X.2007.03463.x
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Names and Taxonomy

Taxonomy

Comments: Enzyme and electrophoretic studies (Meehan and Carlton, 1988; Meehan et al., 1989; Luttikhuizen et al., 2003; Vainola, 2003) have resulted in significant taxonomic changes in the Macoma balthica complex. True Macome balthica is now restricted to both the Pacific-Baltic-White Sea region (subspecies M. b. balthica) as well as the northeast Atlantic in Europe (subspecies M. b. rubra) while what was once considered Macoma balthica in the western Atlantic in North America (Virginia north to the Bay of Fundy) should be considered Macoma petalum, the oldest available name (Vainola, 2003). Introductions in the southeast Pacific (California) originated from the western Atlantic (northeastern U.S. coast) and are M. petalum. Introductions in Alaska have been shown to originate from the Baltic and are M. balthica (subspecies balthica) (Luttikhuizen et al., 2003).

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