The Dinoflagellate Heterocapsa circularisquama and Its Toxic Effect on the Bivalves of Japan

Defense Date


Document Type


Degree Name

M.S. Coastal Zone Management

First Advisor

Andrew Rogerson

Second Advisor

Donald McCorquodale


The purpose of this paper is to review what is known about Heterocapsa circularisquama, a recently identified novel species of dinoflagellate. This species has caused mass mortalities of bivalves in embayments of western Japan. It was first reported in 1988 and since then has killed more than 12 bivalve species. However, no harmful effects on feral fish or public health have been reported. Since 1998, scientists have conducted various studies concerning H. circularisquama. This paper will present and discuss some of their experiments and findings. Heterocapsa circularisquama is the latest species of dinoflagellate to be described that is responsible for red tides. Red tides, however, are not a new phenomenon and have existed in the natural environment for thousands of years. Therefore, to begin, a historical perspective of red tides will be given.

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