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Overview

Brief Summary

Periwinkles are the pebbles of the sea. You find them along the entire coast, on breakwaters, dikes, piers, etc. When a periwinkle ventures high onto the dike on a hot summer day, it lets itself roll down the slope when it gets too hot, hoping to land in water. As it crawls over a hard surface, it leaves behind a trail of slime. All kinds of algae stick to this slime. Other snails, such as laver spire shells, graze upon these slimy trails. If you pick up a periwinkle, the snail will hide in its shell. Pick up several snails and shake them in your hands, then the snails often crawl out of their shell. They confuse the shaking with wave movement. They think that the tide has risen and it is time to look for food.
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Biology

The flat periwinkle grazes on detritus and microorganisms. It also feeds on green seaweeds such as sea lettuce (Ulva lactua) and species of Enteromorpha (2). Breeding may take place throughout the year, but tends to vary depending on temperature (4). The sexes are separate (individuals are either male or female), and fertilisation occurs internally after copulation (2). Egg laying is timed to coincide with the spring tide; the eggs are laid in the sea in gelatinous capsules that usually contain around three eggs (although up to 9 eggs per capsule has been known) (4). The egg capsules float in the sea and free-swimming 'veliger' larvae hatch after a few days. After 6 weeks spent in the ocean, the larvae settle on the shore. The young periwinkles attain sexual maturity at two or three years of age and may live for up to five years (2).
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Description

Periwinkles are a large family of gastropod molluscs found on the shore. The edible periwinkle is perhaps the best known species of this family, as it has been collected and eaten for centuries. After boiling, the soft body is 'winkled out' from the shell with a pin or a special 'winkle-picker' (3). This species is the largest periwinkle found in Britain. It has a dark grey or black conical shell that develops a smooth surface with age. The flattened tentacles bear obvious black bands, a feature which allows young specimens to be identified easily. Males can be distinguished during the breeding season by the presence of a penis on the right side of the body (4).
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Comprehensive Description

Description

 This the largest British periwinkle, with the shell reaching a maximum height of 52 mm. The shell is sharply conical with a pointed apex and surface sculpturing. The spiral ridges which are marked in young animals tend to become obscured in older individuals, giving the shell a smooth appearance. The shell colour ranges from grey-black-brown-red but is generally black or dark grey-brown, often lighter towards the apex, and is usually patterned with spiral darker lines. The columella or central axis of the shell is typically white and the animal is recognizable in its juvenile stages by the transverse black barring of the tentacles which are rather flat and broad.Also commonly known as the 'edible periwinkle'. Young animals with spiral ridges may be confused with Littorina saxatilis. During the breeding season males are easily distinguished by the presence of a penis on the right hand side of the body.
 The taxonomy of the Gastropoda has been recently revised (see Ponder & Lindberg 1997, and Taylor 1996). Ponder & Lindberg (1997) suggest that Mesogastropoda should be included in a monophyletic clade, the Caenogastropoda. See Reid (1996) for a comprehensive review of the systematics and evolution of Littorina littorea.
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Distribution

Rare or absent in Isles of Scilly and Channel Isles
  • Hayward, P.J.; Ryland, J.S. (Ed.) (1990). The marine fauna of the British Isles and North-West Europe: 1. Introduction and protozoans to arthropods. Clarendon Press: Oxford, UK. ISBN 0-19-857356-1. 627 pp.
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Labrador to Maryland; Western Europe
  • North-West Atlantic Ocean species (NWARMS)
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National Distribution

United States

Origin: Native

Regularity: Regularly occurring

Currently: Present

Confidence: Confident

Type of Residency: Year-round

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Range

Common on all rocky British coasts, but is absent from the Channel Isles and Isles of Scilly (4). Elsewhere it is found around north-west Europe (2).
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Ecology

Habitat

intertidal, bathyal, infralittoral and circalittoral of the Gulf and estuary
  • North-West Atlantic Ocean species (NWARMS)
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Depth range based on 584 specimens in 2 taxa.
Water temperature and chemistry ranges based on 44 samples.

Environmental ranges
  Depth range (m): -3 - 34
  Temperature range (°C): 3.587 - 12.348
  Nitrate (umol/L): 0.927 - 7.121
  Salinity (PPS): 7.618 - 35.363
  Oxygen (ml/l): 6.069 - 8.061
  Phosphate (umol/l): 0.064 - 0.547
  Silicate (umol/l): 2.315 - 11.134

Graphical representation

Depth range (m): -3 - 34

Temperature range (°C): 3.587 - 12.348

Nitrate (umol/L): 0.927 - 7.121

Salinity (PPS): 7.618 - 35.363

Oxygen (ml/l): 6.069 - 8.061

Phosphate (umol/l): 0.064 - 0.547

Silicate (umol/l): 2.315 - 11.134
 
Note: this information has not been validated. Check this *note*. Your feedback is most welcome.

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 Littorina littorea is widely distributed on rocky coasts, in all except the most exposed areas, from the upper shore into the sublittoral. In sheltered conditions they can also be found in sandy or muddy habitats such as estuaries and mud-flats. The species is fairly tolerant of brackish water.
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This periwinkle is found from the upper shore down to the sublittoral and may also occur on mudflats and in estuaries (2). Large aggregations may arise in more suitable areas, such as rock-pools (4).
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Associations

Animal / parasite / endoparasite
cercaria of Cryptocotyle lingua endoparasitises Littorina littorea

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Known predators

  • R. W. Dexter, The marine communities of a tidal inlet at Cape Ann, Massachusetts: a study in bio-ecology, Ecol. Monogr. 17:263-294, from p. 272 (1947).
  • C. H. Peterson, The importance of predation and competition in organizing the intertidal epifaunal communities of Barnegat Inlet, New Jersey, Oecologia (Berlin) 39:1-24, from p. 8 (1979).
  • R. W. Dexter, The marine communities of a tidal inlet at Cape Ann, Massachusetts: a study in bio-ecology, Ecol. Monogr. 17:263-294, from p. 278 (1947).
  • R. W. Dexter, The marine communities of a tidal inlet at Cape Ann, Massachusetts: a study in bio-ecology, Ecol. Monogr. 17:263-294, from p. 284 (1947).
  • R. W. Dexter, The marine communities of a tidal inlet at Cape Ann, Massachusetts: a study in bio-ecology, Ecol. Monogr. 17:263-294, from p. 287 (1947).
  • R. W. Dexter, The marine communities of a tidal inlet at Cape Ann, Massachusetts: a study in bio-ecology, Ecol. Monogr. 17:263-294, from p. 288 (1947).
  • Hall SJ, Raffaelli D (1991) Food-web patterns: lessons from a species-rich web. J Anim Ecol 60:823–842
  • Huxham M, Beany S, Raffaelli D (1996) Do parasites reduce the chances of triangulation in a real food web? Oikos 76:284–300
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Known prey organisms

Littorina littorea (Littorina littorea periwinkle) preys on:
macroalgae
seaweeds
algae
Ulva
Ascophyllum
Fucus
Chaetomorpha
Enteromorpha

Based on studies in:
USA: Massachusetts, Cape Ann (Marine, Sublittoral)
USA: New Jersey (Brackish water)
Scotland (Estuarine)

This list may not be complete but is based on published studies.
  • R. W. Dexter, The marine communities of a tidal inlet at Cape Ann, Massachusetts: a study in bio-ecology, Ecol. Monogr. 17:263-294, from p. 272 (1947).
  • C. H. Peterson, The importance of predation and competition in organizing the intertidal epifaunal communities of Barnegat Inlet, New Jersey, Oecologia (Berlin) 39:1-24, from p. 8 (1979).
  • R. W. Dexter, The marine communities of a tidal inlet at Cape Ann, Massachusetts: a study in bio-ecology, Ecol. Monogr. 17:263-294, from p. 278 (1947).
  • R. W. Dexter, The marine communities of a tidal inlet at Cape Ann, Massachusetts: a study in bio-ecology, Ecol. Monogr. 17:263-294, from p. 284 (1947).
  • R. W. Dexter, The marine communities of a tidal inlet at Cape Ann, Massachusetts: a study in bio-ecology, Ecol. Monogr. 17:263-294, from p. 287 (1947).
  • R. W. Dexter, The marine communities of a tidal inlet at Cape Ann, Massachusetts: a study in bio-ecology, Ecol. Monogr. 17:263-294, from p. 288 (1947).
  • Hall SJ, Raffaelli D (1991) Food-web patterns: lessons from a species-rich web. J Anim Ecol 60:823–842
  • Huxham M, Beany S, Raffaelli D (1996) Do parasites reduce the chances of triangulation in a real food web? Oikos 76:284–300
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Molecular Biology and Genetics

Molecular Biology

Barcode data: Littorina littorea

The following is a representative barcode sequence, the centroid of all available sequences for this species.


There are 468 barcode sequences available from BOLD and GenBank.  Below is a sequence of the barcode region Cytochrome oxidase subunit 1 (COI or COX1) from a member of the species.  See the BOLD taxonomy browser for more complete information about this specimen and other sequences.

GGAGAT---GACCAGCTGTACAACGTTATCGTTACAGCCCACGCCTTTGTAATAATTTTCTTTCTTGTTATGCCTATAATAATTGGTGGGTTTGGAAATTGACTTGTCCCCTTAATA---TTAGGAGCACCCGATATAGCATTCCCTCGCTTAAATAACATAAGCTTTTGATTACTCCCCCCCGCCTTGTTGTTGTTACTATCTTCTGCTGCGGTAGAAAGTGGTGCAGGGACGGGTTGAACTGTATATCCTCCTTTATCCGGAAATTTAGCCCATGCCGGAGGCTCTGTGGACTTA---GCCATTTTCTCTCTTCATTTGGCCGGTGTCTCATCTATTTTAGGGGCCGTAAATTTTATTACAACTATTATTAATATACGATGACGAGGGATGCAATTCGAGCGATTACCTCTTTTTGTTTGATCTGTAAAAATTACAGCCATTCTTTTACTTTTATCCCTTCCAGTTTTAGCAGGA---GCCATTACAATATTGTTAACTGATCGAAATTTTAACACTGCCTTCTTCGATCCTGCTGGGGGTGGAGATCCTATTCTCTACCAGCATTTATTTTGATTCTTCGGT------------------------------------GGACTGTACAACGTTATCGTTACAGCCCACGCC---TTTGTAATAATTTTCTTTCTTGTTATGCCTATAATA---------------ATTGGTGGGTTTGGA---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------AATTGACTTGTCCCCTTAATATTAGGAGCACCCGATATAGCATTCCCTAACATAAGCTTTTGATTACTCCCCCCCGCCTTGTTG------------------------TTGTTACTATCTTCTGCTGCGGTAGAAAGT------------------------------------------------------------------------------GGTGCAGGGACGGGTTGATATCCTCCTTTATCCGGAAATTTAGCCCATGCCGGAGGCTCT------------------------------GTGGACTTAGCCATTTTCTCTCTTCAT---------TTGGCCGGT---------------------------------------------------------GTCTCATCTATTTTAGGGGCCGTAAATTTTATTACAACTATT------ATTAATATACGATGACGAGGGATGCAATTCGAGCGATTACCT---CTTTTTGTTTGATCTGTAAAAATTACA
-- end --

Download FASTA File
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Statistics of barcoding coverage: Littorina littorea

Barcode of Life Data Systems (BOLDS) Stats
Public Records: 372
Specimens with Barcodes: 395
Species With Barcodes: 1
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Genomic DNA is available from 2 specimens with morphological vouchers housed at Australia Museum
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Conservation

Conservation Status

National NatureServe Conservation Status

United States

Rounded National Status Rank: NNR - Unranked

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NatureServe Conservation Status

Rounded Global Status Rank: GNR - Not Yet Ranked

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Status

Not threatened (2).
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Threats

This species is not threatened.
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Management

Conservation

Not relevant.
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Wikipedia

Common periwinkle

The common periwinkle or winkle, Littorina littorea, is a species of small edible sea snail, a marine gastropod mollusc that has gills and an operculum, and is classified within the family Littorinidae, the periwinkles.[2]

This is a robust intertidal species with a dark and sometimes banded shell. It is native to the rocky shores of the northeastern, and introduced to the northwestern, Atlantic Ocean.

Description[edit]

Shell of the common periwinkle

The shell is broadly ovate, thick, and sharply pointed except when eroded.[3] The shell contains six to seven whorls with some fine threads and wrinkles. The color is variable from grayish to gray-brown, often with dark spiral bands.[3] The base of the columella is white.[3] The shell lacks an umbilicus. The white outer lip is sometimes checkered with brown patches. The inside of the shell has a chocolate-brown color.

The width of the shell ranges from 10 to 12 mm at maturity.[4] with an average size of 16–38 mm.[3]

Shell height can reach up to 30 mm,[4] 43 mm[5] or 52 mm.[3]

As a result of its robust nature, Littorina littorea can be highly variable in phenotype with several different morphs present. Its phenotypic variations may be indicative of a speciation event, as opposed to phenotypic plasticity. This is of particular importance to evolutionary biology, as it presents the possible opportunity to view a transitional phase in the evolutionary life of an organism.[6]

Distribution[edit]

Common periwinkles are native to the North-eastern coasts of the Atlantic Ocean, including northern Spain, France, England, Scotland, Ireland, Scandinavia and Russia.[7]

Introductions to North America[edit]

Common periwinkles have been introduced to the Atlantic coast of North America, possibly[vague] by rock ballast in the mid-19th century.[8] The first recorded case was in 1840 in the Gulf of St. Lawrence.[8] It is now a predominant mollusc from New Jersey northward to Newfoundland.[7] It was accidentally introduced to the North American East Coast within the last few centuries and it is now extraordinarily abundant on New England rocky shores.[9] In Canada, their range includes New Brunswick, Nova Scotia, Quebec, Newfoundland and Labrador.[3]

This species is also found on the West Coast of the United States, from Washington to California. L. littorea is now the most common marine snail along the North Atlantic coast. It has changed North Atlantic intertidal ecosystems via grazing activities, altering the distribution and abundance of algae on rocky shores and converting soft-sediment habitats to hard substrates, as well as competitively displacing some native species.[9] The presence of this species has caused extensive damage due to interspecific competition with native intertidal gastropods.[7]

Ecology[edit]

Habitat[edit]

The common periwinkle is mainly found on rocky shores in the higher and middle intertidal zone.[7] It sometimes lives in small tide pools. It may also be found in muddy habitats such as estuaries,[7] and can reach depths of 180 feet.[7]

Feeding[edit]

L. littorea is an omnivorous, grazing intertidal gastropod,[9] primarily on algae grazer, but it will feed on small invertebrates such as barnacle larvae. They use their radulae to scrape algae from rocks, and, in the salt marsh community, pick up algae from the cord grass, or from the biofilm that covers the surface of mud in estuaries or bays.

Phlorotannins in the brown algae Fucus vesiculosus and Ascophyllum nodosum act as chemical defenses against L. littorea.[10]

Life cycle[edit]

L. littorea is oviparous, reproducing annually with internal fertilization of egg capsules that are then shed directly into the sea, leading to a planktotrophic larval development time of four to seven weeks.[9] Females lay 10,000 to 100,000 eggs contained in a corneous capsule from which larvae escape and settle to the bottom.[7] This species can breed year round depending on the local climate.[7] It reaches maturity at 10 mm, and lives five to ten years.[7]

Human use[edit]

Remains of a meal. Winkle from Cantabrian Lower Magdalenian layer (15 000 before present) of the Altamira cave.

This species appears in prehistoric shellfish middens throughout Europe, and is believed to have been an important source of food since at least 7500 BC in Scotland.[11] It is still collected in huge quantities in Scotland, mostly for export to the Continent, and also consumed locally. The official landings figures for Scotland indicate over 2,000 tonnes of winkles are exported annually. This makes winkles the sixth most important shellfish harvested in Scotland in terms of tonnage, and seventh most important in terms of value. However, since actual harvests are probably twice reported levels, the species may actually be the fourth and sixth most important, respectively.[12]

Meat extracted from fresh water periwinkle snail

They are usually picked off the rocks by hand or caught in a drag from a boat. They are mostly eaten in the coastal areas of Scotland and Ireland, where they are commonly referred to as winkles or in some areas buckies, willicks, or wilks. In Belgium, they are commonly called kreukels or caracoles. They are commonly sold in paper bags near beaches in Ireland and Scotland, boiled in their local seawater, with a pin attached to the bag to enable the extraction of the soft parts from the shell.

Periwinkles are considered a delicacy in African and Asian cuisines. The meat is high in protein, omega-3 fatty acids and low in fat; according to the USDA National Nutrient Database for Standard Reference, raw snails in general are about 80% water, 15% protein, and 1.4% fat.

Periwinkles are also used as bait for catching small fish. The shell is usually crushed and the soft parts extracted and put on a hook.

References[edit]

This article incorporates a public domain text (a public domain work of the United States Government) from references [7][3] and CC-BY-2.5 text from the reference [9]

  1. ^ Linnaeus C. (1758). Systema naturae per regna tria naturæ, secundum classes, ordines, genera, species, cum characteribus, differentiis, synonymis, locis. Tomus I. Editio decima, reformata. pp. [1-4], 1-824. Holmiae. (Salvius).
  2. ^ a b Reid, David G.; Gofas, S. (2011). Littorina littorea (Linnaeus, 1758). Accessed through: World Register of Marine Species at http://www.marinespecies.org/aphia.php?p=taxdetails&id=140262 on 2011-05-16
  3. ^ a b c d e f g Benson A. J. (2011). Littorina littorea. USGS Nonindigenous Aquatic Species Database, Gainesville, FL. http://nas.er.usgs.gov/queries/FactSheet.aspx?speciesID=1009 RevisionDate: 4/21/2009.
  4. ^ a b Common periwinkle at marlin.ac.uk retrieved 16.10.2008
  5. ^ Welch J. J. (2010). "The "Island Rule" and Deep-Sea Gastropods: Re-Examining the Evidence". PLoS ONE 5(1): e8776. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0008776.
  6. ^ Grahame J. (1975). "Spawning in Littorina littorea (L.) (Gastropoda: Prosobranchiata)". Journal of experimental marine Biology and Ecology 18: 185-196.
  7. ^ a b c d e f g h i j Benson A. (2008). Littorina littorea. USGS Nonindigenous Aquatic Species Database, Gainesville, FL. <http://nas.er.usgs.gov/queries/FactSheet.asp?speciesID=1009> Revision Date: 8/20/2007
  8. ^ a b Chapman J. W., Carlton J. T., Bellinger M. R. & Blakeslee A. M. H. (2007). "Premature refutation of a human-mediated marine species introduction: the case history of the marine snail Littorina littorea in the northwestern Atlantic". Biological Invasions 9:737-750.
  9. ^ a b c d e Chang A. L., Blakeslee A. M. H., Miller A. W. & Ruiz G. M. (2011). "Establishment Failure in Biological Invasions: A Case History of Littorina littorea in California, USA". PLoS ONE 6(1): e16035. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0016035.
  10. ^ Polyphenols in brown algae Fucus vesiculosus and Ascophyllum nodosum: Chemical defenses against the marine herbivorous snail, Littorina littorea. J. A. Geiselman and O. J. McConnell, Journal Of Chemical Ecology,1981, Volume 7, Number 6, pages 1115-1133, doi:10.1007/BF00987632
  11. ^ Ashmore, quoted in McKay and Fowler 1997 b
  12. ^ McKay and Fowler 1997 b

Further reading[edit]

  • Abbott R. T. (1974). American Seashells. Second edition. Van Nostrand Rheinhold, New York
  • Abbott R. T. (1986). Seashells of North America, St. Martin's Press, New York
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