Halotolerance of the oyster predator, Imogine mcgrathi, a stylochid flatworm from Port Stephens, New South Wales, Australia

W. A. O'Connor*, L. J. Newman

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

18 Citations (Scopus)


The stylochid flatworm, Imogine mcgrathi was confirmed as a predator of the pteriid oyster Pinctada imbricata. Occurring at an average of 3.2 per oyster spat collector bag, the flatworms were found to consume oysters at a rate of 0.035-0.057 d-1 in laboratory trials. Predation was affected by flatworm size with larger worms capable of consuming larger oysters and of consuming greater dry weights of oyster flesh. Irrespective of flatworm size, predation was generally confined to oysters less than 40 mm in shell height. Although all predation occurred at night, shading flatworms during the day did not significantly increase the rate of predation, but there were significant increases in the dry weight of oyster meat consumed. As a means of controlling flatworm infestations, salt, brine baths (250 g kg-1) and freshwater baths were effective in killing I. mcgrathi. The ease of use of hyperor hyposaline baths then encouraged assessments of I. mcgrathi halotolerance. The flatworms were exposed to solutions ranging in salinity from 0 to 250 g kg-1 for periods of from 5 min to 3 h. Despite showing both behavioural and physiological signs of stress, I. mcgrathi survived the maximum exposure time of 3 h at salinities in the range 7.5-60 g kg-1, inclusive. Beyond this range, the duration of exposure tolerated by flatworms decreased until 0 and 250 g kg-1, at which the flatworms no longer survived the minimum tested exposure of 5 min. Thus, despite the significant impact of other stylochids on commercial bivalves, at their current prevalence, I. mcgrathi can be controlled by exposing them to hyper- and hyposaline baths for the culture of P. imbricata in Port Stephens, NSW, Australia.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)157-163
Number of pages7
Publication statusPublished - 1 Sep 2001
Externally publishedYes


  • Flatworm
  • Halotolerance
  • Imogine mcgrathi
  • Oyster
  • Oyster leeches
  • Pinctada imbricata
  • Predation
  • Salinity
  • Stylochid

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