Marine Biology

, Volume 50, Issue 4, pp 359–366 | Cite as

Mechanics and timing of egg capsule release by the littoral fringe periwinkle Littorina planaxis (Gastropoda: Prosobranchia)

  • R. J. Schmitt


The mechanics and timing of egg release are fundamental reproductive adaptations of littorines having complete pelagic development. Female Littorina planaxis release large (5 to 15 mm) planktonic egg masses that contain thousands of minute egg capsules (400μm in diameter). The gelatinous matrix of the mass disintegrates after several hours of immersion in seawater, freeing individual pelagic egg capsules. Egg mass release is highly correlated with spring tide conditions, occurring during the daily highest tide. Pairing activity (copulation) also occurs primarily during spring tide periods. Laboratory and field evidence suggest that female spawning patterns are, in part due to endogenous rhythms. Brief descriptions of the pelagic egg capsules, planktonic egg mass, and oviposition are given to clarify previous observations.


Spring Tide Gastropoda Mass Release Tide Condition Tide Period 
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.


Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Literature Cited

  1. Anderson, D.T.: The reproduction and early life histories of the gastropods Bembicium auratum (Quoy and Gaimard) (Fam. Littorinidae), Cellana tramoserica (Sower.) (Fam. Patellidae) and Melanerita melanotragus (Smith) (Fam. Neritidae). Proc. Linn. Soc. N.S.W. 187, 62–68 (1962)Google Scholar
  2. Bandel, K.: Studies on Littorinidae from the Atlantic. Veliger 17, 92–114 (1974)Google Scholar
  3. Berry, A.J. and E. Chew: Reproductive systems and cyclic release of eggs in Littorina melanostoma from Malayan mangrove swamps (Mollusca: Gastropoda). J. Zool., Lond. 171, 333–334 (1973)Google Scholar
  4. Borkowski, T.V.: Reproduction and reproductive periodicities of Southern Floridian Littorinidae (Gastropoda: Prosobranchia). Bull. mar. Sci. 21, 826–840 (1971)Google Scholar
  5. Gibson, D.G.: Mating behavior in Littorina planaxis. Veliger 7, 134–139 (1964)Google Scholar
  6. Grahame, J.: Spawning in Littorina littorea (L.) (Gastropoda: Prosobranchiata). J. exp. mar. Biol. Ecol. 18, 185–196 (1975)Google Scholar
  7. Hewatt, W.G.: Notes on the breeding seasons of the rocky beach fauna of Monterey Bay, California. Proc. Calif. Acad. Sci. (Ser. 4) 33, 283–288 (1938)Google Scholar
  8. Kojima, Y.: The relation between seasonal migration and spawning of the periwinkle, Littorina brevicula (Philippi). Bull. biol. Stn Asamushi 9, 183–186 (1959)Google Scholar
  9. —: On the reproduction of periwinkles, Littorinidae, Gastropoda. Bull. biol. Stn Asamushi 10, 117–120 (1960)Google Scholar
  10. Lebour, M.V.: The eggs and larvae of some prosobranchs from Bermuda. Proc. zool Soc. Lond. 115, 462–489 (1945)Google Scholar
  11. Lenderking, R.E.: Some recent observations on the biology of Littorina angulifera Lam. of Biscayne and Virginia Keys, Florida. Bull. mar. Sci. Gulf Caribb. 3, 273–296 (1954)Google Scholar
  12. Lysaght, A.M.: The biology and trematode parasites of the gastropod Littorina neritoides of the Plymouth Breakwater. J. mar. biol. Ass. U.K. 25, 41–67 (1941)Google Scholar
  13. MacGinitie, G. and N. MacGinitie: Natural history of marine animals, 2nd ed. 532 pp. New York: McGraw-Hill Co. 1968Google Scholar
  14. Marcus, E. und E. Marcus: Mesogastropoden von der Küste São Paulos. Abh. math.-naturw. Kl. Akad. Wiss. Mainz 1, 1–105 (1963)Google Scholar
  15. Mileikovsky, S.A.: Types of larval development in Littorinidae (Gastropoda: Prosobranchia) of the world ocean, and ecological patterns of their distribution. Mar. Biol. 30, 129–135 (1975)Google Scholar
  16. Murray, T.E.: Development in Lacuna and Littorina (Mesogastropoda: Littorinacea) from California with emphasis on egg masses, egg capsules and larvae, 69 pp. MSc. Thesis, Pacific Marine Station, University of the Pacific 1974Google Scholar
  17. Pilkington, M.C.: Eggs, larvae, and spawning in Melarapha cincta (Quoy and Gaimard) and M. oliveri Finlay (Littorinidae: Gastropoda). Aust. J. mar. Freshwat. Res. 22, 79–90 (1971)Google Scholar
  18. Ricketts, E., J. Calvin and J. Hedgpeth: Between Pacific tides, 4th ed. 614 pp. Stanford: Scanford University Press 1968Google Scholar
  19. Struhsaker, J.W.: Breeding, spawning, spawning periodicity and early development in the Hawaiian Littorina: L. pintado (Wood), L. picta Philippi, and L. scabra (Linné). Proc. malac. Soc. Lond. 37, 137–166 (1966)Google Scholar
  20. Yamada, S.B.: Range extension in Littorina sitkana Philippi, 1845, and range contraction in Littorina planaxis Philippi, 1847. Veliger 19, p. 368 (1977)Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 1979

Authors and Affiliations

  • R. J. Schmitt
    • 1
    • 2
    • 3
  1. 1.Pacific Marine StationDillon BeachUSA
  2. 2.Catalina Marine Science CenterAvalonUSA
  3. 3.Department of BiologyUniversity of CaliforniaLos AngelesUSA

Personalised recommendations