• Tributyltin (TBT);
  • Hermit crabs;
  • Gonad atrophy;
  • Pollution


Tributyltin (TBT) contamination affects the reproductive system of many species of invertebrates worldwide. The present study was designed to evaluate the effects of exposure to TBT pollution on the reproduction of the hermit crab Clibanarius vittatus. An orthogonal experiment was designed with two treatments: contamination (with or without TBT in the food) and crab sex (males and females). The animals were reared in the laboratory for nine months, and macroscopic and histological analyses of reproductive organs were carried out after the end of the experiment. Tributyltin was recorded in exposed crabs, but no morphological alterations were detected in the gonads of males, regardless of whether they were exposed to TBT. In contrast, females exposed to TBT displayed disorganization and atrophy of their ovaries, thus directly affecting reproduction in this hermit crab species. This effect observed in female hermit crabs may harm populations located in harbor regions, where TBT concentration is high, even after the worldwide TBT ban. Environ. Toxicol. Chem. 2012;31:632–638. © 2011 SETAC