Taxonomic name: Littorina littorea (Linnaeus, 1758)
Common names: common periwinkle (English)
Organism type: mollusc
Littorina littorea is a mollusc which is often distributed on rocky coasts, from the upper shore into the sub-littoral. It is also tolerant of brackish water. Littorina littorea feeds on diatoms, Enteromorpha, Ulva and Porphyra. Littorina littorea are oviparous and reproduce annually. Egg capsules are shed directly into the sea. It has been suggested that Littorina littorea can serve as a highly suitable bio-indicator species for contamination of marine environments.
Jackson (2002) states that Littorina littorea, "Is the largest British periwinkle, with the shell reaching a maximum height of 52mm. 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 gray-black-brown-red but is generally black or dark gray-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."
coastland, estuarine habitats, marine habitats
Jackson (2002) states that, "L. 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."
The Coastal Studies Center (CSC) (UNDATED) report that, "L. littorea is an important macro-algal grazer that competes with the other local littorines." Chmielewski (2002) adds that, "L. littorea has drastically altered the New England intertidal community structure by allowing slow growing Chondrus crispus to overtake faster growing green algal species. In both open coast and estuary habitats L. littorea can be found often at densities of 200-500 individuals per square metre (Menger et al., 2001, in Chmielewski, 2002)."
Chase et al. (UNDATED) state that L. littorea "Was introduced to Canada through ballast water or intentionally for food." Jackson (2002) states that L. littorea, "has been suggested as a highly suitable bio-indicator species for contamination of the marine environment. This stems mainly from its ability to accumulate trace elements and compounds and consequential behavioural changes."
Dubois (2002) states that L. littorea, "Plays a very important role in shoreline ecosystems. Once they have recruited (come out of the water column after spending their youth as plankton), they are significant grazers of the juvenile algae that attempts to recruit in the same area."
Native range: Europe (Jackson, 2002).
Known introduced range: North America (Dubois, 2002)
Introduction pathways to new locations
Live food trade: Chase et al. (UNDATED) state that L. littorea "Was introduced to Canada through ballast water or intentionally for food."
Ship ballast water: Chase et al. (UNDATED) state that L. littorea "Was introduced to Canada through ballast water or intentionally for food."
There is not much management information available for L. littorea in North America where it is invasive. For a similar species, L. saxatilis, Graham (2003) states that, "In general, biocides, manual removal of marine invaders, and the introduction of bio-control agents have been considered in the removal of invaders of marine systems. However, little has been done in the way of eradication and or research in this area in general. There is concern that any research to be conducted should include the study of ways to avoid reintroduction of the species.”
Dubois (2002) states that. "A fresh supply of diatoms, Enteromorpha, Ulva, and Porphyra is available in the numerous tide pools. These are the types of algae preferred by L. littorea."
L. littorea are dioecious. They are oviparous, and reproduce annually. A female may have between 10,000 and 100,000 eggs. They mature between 2 and 3 years of age, and are expected to live between 5 and 10 years (Jackson, 2002).
Jackson (2002) states that L. littorea , "Sheds egg capsules directly into the sea. Egg capsules are about 1mm across and each biconvex capsule can contain up to nine eggs but normally there are only two or three eggs per capsule. Egg release is synchronized with spring tides. In estuaries the population matures earlier in the year and maximum spawning occurs in January. Larval settling time or pelagic phase can be up to six weeks."
Compiled by: National Biological Information Infrastructure (NBII) & IUCN/SSC Invasive Species Specialist Group (ISSG)
Last Modified: Friday, 11 March 2005