Soft bottom Mollusks in the Eastern Mediterranean, Syrian transitional region

Mollusca non-indigenous species Specific composition Syrian coast Zoobenthos


February 25, 2024


This study aimed to describe the distribution and diversity of soft bottom mollusk community in the Syrian transitional region and to assess the state of alien species in the northern part of the Syrian coast north of Latakia (Ibn Hani site) since 2010, at depths ranging between 110-160 m. Sixty benthic samples were collected monthly using a Van-Veen grab 1/40 m2. Water temperature, salinity, pH, and dissolved oxygen of the subsurface water were measured. Molluscan specimens were isolated and identified at the species level. The abundance and biomass for each species in the samples and per square meter were considered to assess spatial and temporal variation of Molluscan assemblages between depths within the months. A total of 167 mollusk species belonging to 3 classes were identified, 57 newly recorded in Syria, and 18 (10.7%) non-indigenous species were found. Among these, three new aliens of Retusa truncatula, Styloptygma beatrix, and Afrocardium richardi were recorded for Syria. The presence of these mollusks was associated with the soft sediments (mud), which did not differ by time or depths. The results revealed that the Molluscan community was dominant by Bittium arenarium, B. tarentinum, Odostomia   lorioli, Turritella turbona, Varicorbula gibba, Nucula nucleus, and Lembulus pella. A significant decrease in biomass is expected due to overfishing and severe nutrient deficiency. Our study adds a large number of mollusks to the list of previously recorded species and confirms the increase in the number of aliens and the expansion of their spread in the medium depths. Greater efforts are required to detect more aliens and evaluate their progress, spread, and their relationship with natives, especially in harbors and port environments.