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Polydorid polychaetes (Spionidae) on farmed and wild abalone (<i>Haliotis midae</i>) in South Africa: an epidemiological survey

MK Boonzaaier
S Neethling
A Mouton
CA Simon


Although there has been an increase in our understanding of the shell-boring polydorids that infest abalone Haliotis in South Africa, abalone from a limited number of farms, and wild populations from east of Cape Agulhas only, have been examined. To gain further knowledge and a more complete understanding of the local distribution of polydorids, we examined up to 30 abalone from each of 14 farms in the Northern, Western and Eastern Cape provinces, and five wild sites in the Western Cape, west of Cape Agulhas. Farm and wild communities were significantly different from each other (ANOSIM, r = 0.632, p < 0.002) and Bray–Curtis cluster analysis showed that most farms clustered separately from wild sites. Boccardia proboscidea was present on all but one of the infested farms, whereas some were also infested by Dipolydora capensis. By contrast, D. capensis was present at all wild sites sampled, whereas B. proboscidea was absent from these sites. Polydora hoplura, a common shell-boring pest, was present at only two farms and two wild sites. There appeared to be some exchange of polydorids among farms and between farms and wild abalone. The farm on the East Coast did not cluster with any other sites, indicating a unique composition of polydorids on that coast. No new, potentially problematic, species was encountered, although four species showed an increase in their known distribution.

Keywords: Boccardia, Dipolydora, distributional range, infestation, Polydora, species diversity

African Journal of Marine Science 2014, 36(3): 369–376