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Some observations on shell-shape variation in North American populations of Nucella lapillus (L.)
Crothers, J.H. (1983). Some observations on shell-shape variation in North American populations of Nucella lapillus (L.). Biol. J. Linn. Soc. 19(3): 237-274.
In: Biological Journal of the Linnean Society. Academic Press: London; New York. ISSN 0024-4066, more
Peer reviewed article  

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    Shape; Shells (structural forms); Nucella lapillus (Linnaeus, 1758) [WoRMS]; North America [Marine Regions]; Marine

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  • Crothers, J.H.

    This paper considers shell-shape variation in samples of the dog-whelk/dog-winkle, ucella lapillus, from the southern half of its North American range, between 41 and 46N, and compares it with the pattern seen in Europe. At the extreme southern limit of its American range, to the south of Cape Cod, the species exhibits features to be expected in an animal close to an environmental limit. It is generally rare and has a patchy distribution. There is little variation in the shell: almost all adult individuals have rather large, thick, white, elongated shells. This contrasts sharply with the situation in Portugal, at the southern limit in Europe, where the animals have small thin, coloured shells of intermediate shape.

    Away from the marginal situation, north of Nahant (42CN) in America, the species shows much the same range of variability in shell size, shape and colour on both sides of the Atlantic. Most populations appear to show the same pattern of shape variation in asociation with the exposure of their habitat to wave action. Animals from exposed sites tend to have shorter, squatter shells than their compatriots in shelter. However, in America as in some parts of Europe, there are occasional enclaves which do not fit the usual pattern. It is interesting to note that the form normally associated with extremely exposed shores from Brittany to Faroe in Europe is found in Atlantic Canada but is apparently absent from southern populations in both the U.S.A and the Iberian Peninsula.

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