Chiton Fauna of the Swan River



Biomineralisation refers to the field of study concerned with understanding the mechanisms of biologically mediated mineral growth. The biomineral systems detailed in this collection primarily comprise the study of iron biomineral formation in invertebrates.
In 2006, two species of chiton, living on bottles buried in the sediment, were discovered by divers during a “Clean-up Australia” dive at Bicton Baths. This was unexpected, as chitons are considered to be a fully marine class of mollusc. Chitons are known to harden their teeth (radulae) with iron oxide minerals, and the question was raised as to whether heavy metals, present within the river sediments, could make their way into the teeth. While important in terms of the tooth biomineralisation process, metal contamination in chitons could also be used as a measure of ecosystem health. Furthermore, the distribution of this marine species within the estuary may be useful for evaluating changes to benthic environments resulting from sea-level rise attributed to global warming. Accordingly, an underwater survey was conducted to ascertain the diversity and distribution of chiton species in the Swan River Estuary, and determine whether a relationship exists between the levels of heavy metal contamination in chitons and the sediment.
Technique: SEM
Instrument: JEOL 6400
Date made available2 Oct 2012
PublisherThe University of Western Australia
Date of data production1 Feb 2008 - 31 Dec 2008
Geographical coverageCentre for Microscopy, Characterisation and Analysis, Physics Building, University of Western Australia


  • Chiton
  • Biomineralisation
  • Magnetite
  • Bioaccumulation
  • Heavy metal contamination

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