Marine Biology

, Volume 149, Issue 3, pp 515–523 | Cite as

Morphological and habitat divergence in the intertidal limpet Patelloida pygmaea

  • Shizuko NakaiEmail author
  • Osamu Miura
  • Masayuki Maki
  • Satoshi Chiba
Research Article


In the intertidal limpet Patelloida pygmaea, two distinctive morphs, the forms pygmaea and conulus, have been recorded. The former possesses a flat elongated shell, and the latter has an extremely high round shell. It has been observed in the field that pygmaea is found on oyster shells Crassostrea gigas. The form conulus uses an unusual substrate for attachment. It is found on the living shells of the intertidal gastropod Batillaria cumingi. Although conulus is normally found only on shells of Batillaria, it can also be found on oyster shells when pygmaea and Batillaria shells are not present in nature. An electrophoretic analysis of allozymes showed that these two forms are reproductively isolated from each other and coexist without gene exchange on the same mudflat. Laboratory experiments showed that pygmaea prefers oyster shells and conulus prefers Batillaria shells as substrates for attachment when both oyster and Batillaria shells are present. The form pygmaea did not attach to Batillaria shells, even when only Batillaria shells were available. However, conulus also attached to oyster shells when Batillaria shells were not available. The proportion of individuals of conulus that attached to oyster shells decreased significantly when pygmaea was attaching to the oyster shells. These results suggest that pygmaea is ecologically more specialized to living on oyster shells than conulus.


Desiccation Stress Oyster Shell Shell Shape Shell Morphology High Shell 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.



We express our sincere thanks to J. Urabe, M. Kawata, and I. Hayami for helpful advice and assistance, and to M. Hayashi, N. Wakayama, N. Takahashi, and Y. Sasaki for providing materials. This study was supported by grants from Japan Society for the Promotion of Science. The sampling and experimental work in this study complied with the current laws of Japan.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 2006

Authors and Affiliations

  • Shizuko Nakai
    • 1
    Email author
  • Osamu Miura
    • 1
  • Masayuki Maki
    • 1
  • Satoshi Chiba
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology, Graduate School of Life SciencesUniversity of TohokuSendaiJapan

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