Limpets: Patella vulgata

HomeBackgroundTectura testudinalisPatella vulgata

The Common Limpet

Phylum: Mollusca

Class: Gastropoda

Sublcass: Prosobranchia

Order: Archaeogastropoda

Suborder: Patelloidea


Scientic namePatella vulgata

Patella vulgata is also known as the common limpet, recognized for its extensive range in the northeast Atlantic.  It inhabits the coasts of Europe from Norway through Portugal as well as Bermuda.  P. vulgata is the largest limpet in Europe, growing up to 7 cm in diameter and 3 cm in height.  It has a conical shell with a central or slightly anterior apex.  The shell has clear growth rings as well as radiating ridges.  Its pallial tentacles that encirlce the edge of the shell are transparent.  Shells are greyish white with red or yellow markings (Figure 1).

P. vulgata lives in rocky intertidal zones, usually with little seaweed cover, from high shore barnacle zone to the edge of the sublittoral.  It is found in every type of habitat from rough, waveo-exposed shores to calm estuaries.  Common limpets exhibit strong homing behavior, returning to home scars after foraging excursions.  Over time they grind the stone around their homesites until their shells match the rock shape.  Foraging behavior differs in P. vulgata based on microhabitat: individuals forage diurnally whilst submerged on horizontal rock  while individuals on vertical rock forage nocturnally whilst emersed (Figure 2).  P. vulgata is a generalist that grazes on diatoms, blue-green algae, sporelings of macroalgae, and detritus.

Sources: Hartnoll and Wright 1977; Williams et al., 1999; Gray and Hogdson 1998; Hill 2008; PzNow 2008; Common Limpet 2008a; Common Limpet 2008b.

Figure 1. Conical, textured shells of P. vulgata

Figure 2. Submersed P. vulgata foraging on horizontal rock