Morphological and habitat divergence in the intertidal limpet Patelloida pygmaea

Shizuko Nakai, Osamu Miura, Masayuki Maki, Satoshi Chiba

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

5 Citations (Scopus)


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.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)515-523
Number of pages9
JournalMarine Biology
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 2006 Jun

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics
  • Aquatic Science
  • Ecology


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