MadSci Network: General Biology

Re: How long does a limpet typically live?

Date: Wed Apr 24 10:02:18 2002
Posted By: Aydin Orstan, Staff, Office of Food Additive Safety, Food and Drug Administration
Area of science: General Biology
ID: 1019058594.Gb

Dear Trina,
According to a book I have (Little & Kitching, The Biology of Rocky 
Shores, Oxford University Press, 1996), the life span of one species of 
limpet, Patella vulgata, depends on how high on the rocks at the shore 
limpets live. Those that live at the highest spots that get wet only 
during the high tide live longer (12-15 years) than those that live close 
to the water and are wet most of the time (4-5 years).

The limpets release their eggs and sperm directly into the sea. Although 
my book doesn't give any numbers, I suspect that in cases like these, 
where the meeting between an egg and a sperm cell entirely depends on 
chance and when the mortality rates are very high, millions of eggs and 
sperm cells will be released. Only a very small fraction of these gametes 
will become larvae and a smaller fraction of the larvae will survive to 
become adults.

Aydin Orstan

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