Patterns of Sex Change of the Protandric Patellacean Limpet Lottia gigantea (Mollusca: Gastropoda)

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Experiments were done to test the effects of density and age on the probability of sex change in the protandrous limpet Lottia gigantea (Sowerby, 1834). Because of tag loss and mortality, final numbers of individuals in each experiment were low. However, some trends are present in these data that are distinctive. Young, territorially subordinate limpets, transplanted to large, isolated, empty territories, had a low proportion of sex changers during the first year of the experiment (4/ 22), but a significantly higher proportion during the second year (9 / 11 ). Limpets maintained at higher densities had a low proportion of sex changers during both the first (1 / 7) and second (1 / 5, 1 / 7, 1 / 12) years after transplantation, regardless of age. These data suggest that either low density promotes sex change with a one year lag period, or that high density inhibits sex change that would otherwise occur when the limpets are 2 to 3 years old. The presence of an inherent probability of sex change cannot be ruled out.


This article was originally published in The Veliger, volume 27, issue 3, in 1985.


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