Life History of Symbiont-Bearing Giant Clams from Stable Isotope Profiles

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Science  03 Jan 1986:
Vol. 231, Issue 4733, pp. 46-48
DOI: 10.1126/science.231.4733.46


Stable isotopic and shell-growth banding studies of the symbiont-bearing giant clam Tridacna maxima reveal the existence of two growth phases related to sexual maturity that can be discerned in the shells of extinct and extant mollusks. The changeover from the first to second growth phase at an age of approximately 10 years is accompanied by a decrease in rate of calcification and suggests a reordering of energy priorities between biomineralization and reproduction. The carbon-13 to carbon-12 ratio of Tridacna maxima is systematically depleted relative to symbiont-barren mollusks, making it possible to determine the importance of algal-molluscan symbiosis to the functional morphology and paleoecology of mollusks in the geologic record.

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