Seasonal variations of contamination and exoskeletal malformations
in the white shrimps Palaemon longirostris in the Gironde
Received: 19 June 2017 /Accepted: 6 May 2018
Springer-Verlag GmbH Germany, part of Springer Nature 2018
Since the end of the 1980s, white shrimps (Palaemon longirostris) from the Gironde estuary have exhibited exoskeletal
malformations, mainly involving cephalothorax, rostrum, scaphocerites and uropods. An 8-month study was carried out in
2015. Each month, 200 individuals were sampled and examined for exoskeletal malformations. Temporal variations in malfor-
mation frequency were noted, particularly during the breeding period, along with decreases in the size of non-deformed shrimps
related to the appearance of juveniles in breeding sites, and high mortality among deformed shrimps. A significant increase in
proportions of deformed shrimp was observed, relating particularly to the size (and therefore the age) of individuals. No
significant difference was found between shrimp proportions with different numbers of malformations (one to four) for a fixed
size class, nor was there any variation in proportions within different size classes for a fixed number of malformations. This
would appear to indicate that the number of malformations is acquired and new malformations do not seem to appear during the
life cycle, except for the smallest (youngest) shrimps. The malformation spectrum showed no significant differences between the
biggest and smallest individuals for the different malformation associations, except for those involving cephalothorax, rostrum
and uropods. This would suggest that some malformation associations lead to a higher mortality rate in shrimps subjected to
them, due to greater impairment of feeding and/or swimming behaviour. Multiple component analysis of the different types of
malformation showed correlations between exoskeletal pieces (rostrum and cephalothorax) and appendixes (scaphocerites and
uropods). Regarding metal contamination in shrimp, no significant difference was highlighted between deformed and non-
deformed shrimps. Organic pollutants were not measured in tissues. Certain herbicides such as metolachlore and chlortoluron
• Estuarine white shrimps exhibited exoskeletal malformations.
• Temporal variation of malformation frequency with higher occurrence
during the breeding period.
• Positive correlation between deformed exoskeletal pieces.
• Smallest, and so youngest, shrimp are less deformed
• Similar malformation spectrum is observed between smallest and
• Organic pollutant as metolachlore could potentially be one candidate to
the emergence of exoskeletal malformations, in contrast with metals
found in the environment.
Responsible editor: Philippe Garrigues
Electronic supplementary material The online version of this article
(https://doi.org/10.1007/s11356-018-2241-6) contains supplementary
material, which is available to authorized users.
* Bérenger Levesque
Irstea, UR EABX, av.de Verdun, 33612 Cestas, France
Université de Bordeaux, EPOC UMR 5805, 33400 Talence, France
UMR CNRS 5805 EPOC–OASU Station Marine d’Arcachon
Université de Bordeaux Place du Docteur Bertrand Peyneau,
33120 Arcachon Cedex, France
Environmental Science and Pollution Research