BIOTIC Species Information for Patella vulgata
Researched byJacqueline Hill Data supplied byMarLIN
Refereed byProf. Steve J. Hawkins
Distribution and Habitat
Distribution in Britain & IrelandFound on all British and Irish coasts wherever there is a suitable hard substratum.
Global distributionDistributed from north Norway to the Mediterranean.
Biogeographic rangeNot researched Depth rangeIntertidal
Distribution Additional InformationThis species extends from the Arctic Circle in Norway to Portugal. Distribution is limited in the north by the ability of newly-settled young to survive cold, and in the south by their ability to withstand heat and desiccation (Bowman & Lewis, 1977).

The upper limit of distribution on a shore is increased by shade and exposure. In some situations seasonal variations in sunshine causes a downward migration in spring/summer and an upward migration in autumn/winter, though the upward movement is not confined to individuals which originally occupied the high levels (Lewis, 1954). Spat settle in pools and damp places, becoming vagrant after emergence for the first 1-3 years and then settle down to a homing lifestyle, although swapping of home does occur. Adult Patella vulgata generally return after feeding to their so-called 'home scar', a depression in the rock formed by abrasion of the rock surface by the shell, resulting in a tighter fit to the rock and reduced risk of desiccation. Patella vulgata is tolerant of low salinities extending into the mouth of estuaries, surviving in salinities down to about 20 psu (Fish & Fish, 1996).

Substratum preferencesBedrock
Large to very large boulders
Small boulders
Crevices / fissures
Artificial (e.g. metal/wood/concrete)
Physiographic preferencesOpen coast
Strait / sound
Enclosed coast / Embayment
Biological zoneUpper Eulittoral
Mid Eulittoral
Lower Eulittoral
Wave exposureExtremely Exposed
Very Exposed
Moderately Exposed
Very Sheltered
Extremely Sheltered
Ultra Sheltered
Tidal stream strength/Water flowVery Strong (>6 kn)
Strong (3-6 kn)
Moderately Strong (1-3 kn)
Weak (<1 kn)
Very Weak (negligible)
SalinityVariable (18-40 psu)
Reduced (18-30 psu)
Full (30-40 psu)
Habitat Preferences Additional Information
Distribution References Hayward & Ryland, 1995b, Hayward et al., 1996, Campbell, 1994, Fish & Fish, 1996, Fretter & Graham, 1994, Fretter & Graham, 1976, Bowman & Lewis, 1977, Thompson, 1980, Lewis, 1954, Arnold, 1957,
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