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Species Name:    Stylochus sp.
Common Name:       (Oyster Leech)

 

I. TAXONOMY

Kingdom Phylum/Division: Class: Order: Family: Genus:
Animalia Platyhelminthes Turbellaria Polycladida Stylochidae Stylochus



Stylochus sp. (Oyster leech): Note two flatworms in oyster shell.  Photo courtesy of: Newman & Flowers, Smithsonian Institution (NMNH).

Species Name: 
Stylochus sp.


Common Name: 
Oyster leech

 



Species Description:
Stylochus sp. are generally oval in shape, with greatly flattened bodies. Color is tan to darker brown. They are common inhabitants of oyster reefs and reach 2.5 - 3.2 cm (approximately 1 inch) in length.

Other Taxonomic Groupings:
Suborder: Acotylea.


II. HABITAT AND DISTRIBUTION 

Regional Occurrence:
Extent of range is undetermined.

IRL Distribution:
Stylochus sp. is found throughout the Indian River Lagoon, and is most abundant in areas where oysters occur.


III. LIFE HISTORY AND POPULATION BIOLOGY

Age, Size, Lifespan:
Typical and maximum adult sizes of Stylochus sp. are 25 x 12mm and 32 x 15 mm respectively.

Abundance:
Adult Stylochus sp. are considered common in empty oyster shells from Lake Worth to West Palm Beach.

Reproduction:
Stylochus sp. is a simultaneous hermaphrodite.

Embryology:
Egg masses of Stylochus sp. are laid inside empty oyster shell and hatch as Götte's larvae.


IV. PHYSICAL TOLERANCES


V. COMMUNITY ECOLOGY

Trophic Mode:
Stylochus sp. preys on oysters, barnacles and planktonic larvae.

Habitat:
Preferred substratum for Stylochus sp. is oyster reef.


VI. SPECIAL STATUS

Special Status:
Economic Impact

Notes on Endemism:
The invasion status of Stylochus sp. is unknown but its larvae have been found in bilge water.

Economic Importance:
Stylochus sp. can be considered to have an adverse economic impact in the Indian River Lagoon because it preys on oysters.

 

Report by: J. Dineen, Smithsonian Marine Station
with thanks to L. Newman
Submit additional information, photos or comments to:
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Page last updated: July 25, 2001