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Biology/Natural History: This species can survive long periods out of the water and will eventually suffocate of forced to remain under water. It ranges very high in the intertidal. It feeds on diatoms and fine algae, which it rasps off rockweed and off the rocks themselves. It also eats the black lichen which is found in the high intertidal. During grazing it also eats tiny settled barnacles. Predators include snails such as Nucella lamellosa, seastars such as Evasterias troschelii and Leptasterias hexactis, red rock crabs Cancer productus, nemertean worms such as Amphiporus formidabilis, fish such cockscomb pricklebacks (Anoplarchus purpurescens), pile perch (Rhacochilus vacca), clingfish (Gobiesox meandricus), and a variety of ducks, surfbirds, and turnstones. The empty shells are used by small hairy hermit crabs Pagurus hirsutiusculus. This species lays its eggs in gelatinous masses on rocks and algae. The capsules look like tiny reddish flattened lemons. Eggs are laid in the spring or fall on Vancouver Island, and in summer in Oregon. One egg mass may contain the eggs of several females, which may help deter dessication. Unlike L. scutulata, the larvae hatch as juveniles and do not have a pelagic stage. Adults also do not range far, usually moving less than 1 meter per month. They are much more active on foggy days. the foot is divided by a median line and the animal crawls by lifting one half of the foot at a time. Individuals on more exposed coasts are smaller with thinner shells and a larger foot, but still did not survive winter storms well. The constant scraping of littorinid (periwinkle) radulas has been estimated to scrape as much as 1 cm off of intertidal rocks per 16 years.


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© Rosario Beach Marine Laboratory

Source: Invertebrates of the Salish Sea

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