Extreme morphological diversity between populations of Littorina obtusata (L.) from Iceland and the UK

  • R. I. Lewis
  • Gray A. Williams
Conference paper
Part of the Developments in Hydrobiology book series (DIHY, volume 111)


Marine gastropods which do not disperse larvae in the plankton exhibit a relatively high degree of interpopulation morphological variability. This phenomenon has been the root of considerable taxonomic confusion, particularly in the Littorinidae. In the present study, specimens of Littorina obtusata from the UK were compared morphologically and genetically with two samples of a northern high-spired form from Iceland which has been referred to by some workers as Littorina palliata. A multivariate discriminant function analysis based on three measured shell dimensions clearly separated the three samples, correctly predicting the origin of shells on the basis of morphology alone in 96% of cases. However, genetic analysis revealed that the most distant relationship, based on allozyme data at 13 loci, was surprisingly close (Nei’s I=0.983) providing no evidence to suggest that L. palliata is not conspecific with L. obtusata.

Key words

Taxonomy morphological variation allozyme variation Littorina palliata dispersal 


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 1995

Authors and Affiliations

  • R. I. Lewis
    • 1
  • Gray A. Williams
    • 1
  1. 1.Port Erin Marine LaboratoryThe University of LiverpoolPort Erin, Isle of ManUK

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