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Latitudinal influence on gametogenesis and host-parasite ecology in a marine bivalve model

Cite this dataset

Mahony, Kate et al. (2022). Latitudinal influence on gametogenesis and host-parasite ecology in a marine bivalve model [Dataset]. Dryad.


Reproduction and parasites have significant impacts on marine animal populations globally. This study aimed to investigate the associative effects of host reproduction and a host-parasite interplay on a marine bivalve, along a geographic gradient of latitude. Cockles Cerastoderma edule were sampled from five European sites (54°N to 40°N), between April 2018 and October 2019. A histological survey provided data on trematode (metacercaria and sporocyst life stages), prevalence and cockle stage of gametogenesis to assess the influence of a latitudinal gradient on both interplays. Sex ratios at the northernmost sites were skewed towards females and spawning size was reduced at the lower latitudes. Trematode infection did not follow a latitudinal gradient. Localised site-related drivers, namely: seawater temperature varied spatially, having an impact on cockle-trematode interactions. Spawning was related to elevated temperatures at all sites. Prolonged spawning occurred at southern latitudes, where seawater temperatures were warmer. Trematode prevalence and the impact of trematodes on gametogenesis were found to be spatially variable, but not latitudinally. Therefore it is not possible to determine the likelihood of boom and bust events in cockles, based on the latitudinal location of a population. In terms of sublethal impacts, it appeared that energy was allocated to reproduction rather than somatic growth in southern populations, with less energy allocated to reproduction in the larger, northern cockles. The demonstrated spatial trend of energy allocation indicates the potential of a temporal trend of reduced cockle growth at northern sites, as a result of warming sea temperatures. This awareness of the spatially varying drivers of populations is crucial considering the potential for these drivers/inhibitors to be exacerbated in a changing marine environment.


This data was collected in a 19 month European survey using histological methods. 

Usage notes

NAs are present in the growth rings column, indicating that a measurement was not obtained for these individuals. Please see Read Me file for description of variables.