MarLIN

information on the biology of species and the ecology of habitats found around the coasts and seas of the British Isles

Banded chink shell (Lacuna vincta)

Distribution data supplied by the Ocean Biogeographic Information System (OBIS). To interrogate UK data visit the NBN Atlas.

Summary

Description

A common, small sea snail with a distinctly conical shape. Generally a pale horn-colour becoming purplish towards the apex. Brown bands on whorls quite characteristic but sometimes faint or absent. Up to 12 mm high and 5 mm wide.

Recorded distribution in Britain and Ireland

Found on all British and Irish coasts.

Global distribution

Circumboreal extending south to Brittany.

Habitat

Commonly found near the low tide level or in shallow water on seaweed. Often common on Fucus serratus and dense red seaweed turf. Inhabits a wide variety of coastlines but requires the shelter of crevices or dense weed in more exposed areas.

Depth range

0-40

Identifying features

  • A conical shell with five or six smooth whorls and a pointed apex.
  • Umbilicus has a prominent groove or chink.
  • Foot has two short flat metapodial tentacles characteristic of the genus.
  • Typically pale horn-coloured with brown bands on the whorls.

Additional information

The taxonomy of the Gastropoda has been recently revised (see Ponder & Lindberg 1997, and Taylor 1996). Ponder & Lindberg (1997) suggest that Mesogastropoda should be included in a monophyletic clade, the Caenogastropoda.

Listed by

- none -

Further information sources

Search on:

Biology review

Taxonomy

PhylumMollusca
ClassGastropoda
OrderLittorinimorpha
FamilyLittorinidae
GenusLacuna
Authority(Montagu, 1803)
Recent SynonymsLacuna carinata (Montagu, 1803)

Biology

Typical abundanceModerate density
Male size range3-12mm
Male size at maturity6mm
Female size range6mm
Female size at maturity
Growth formTurbinate
Growth rateData deficient
Body flexibility
Mobility
Characteristic feeding method
Diet/food source
Typically feeds ondetritus, periphytic microalgae, macroalgae epidermis.
Sociability
Environmental positionEpifaunal
DependencyIndependent.
SupportsNone
Is the species harmful?No

Biology information

Lacuna is a northern genus and the British Isles are near the southern edge of the range of this species. Lacuna vincta is rare in France but in north-east England densities have been recorded at 300 per square metre. In eastern Canada over 1,500 have been recorded per square metre. Adults die after spawning and very few can be found on the shore after April ( in southern Britain). The population is at a maximum in July (in southern Britain). Immediately after metamorphosis the young snail is about 0.55mm high. The brown bands on the shell develop following settlement. There is a very slight but not conclusive sexual dimorphism with the females being slightly larger. As the snail eats, the radula becomes worn down. Teeth are replaced through new growth. The form of the teeth varies depending on what the snail typically feeds on. This is important for determining feeding effectiveness. Sharp teeth are used for rasping and eating macroalgae whereas broader blunter teeth are used for scraping microalgae from the surface of plants. They do not graze algal film on rocks like the similar winkles.

Habitat preferences

Physiographic preferencesOpen coast, Sea loch / Sea lough, Ria / Voe, Estuary
Biological zone preferences
Substratum / habitat preferencesMacroalgae
Tidal strength preferencesModerately Strong 1 to 3 knots (0.5-1.5 m/sec.), Very Weak (negligible), Weak < 1 knot (<0.5 m/sec.)
Wave exposure preferencesExtremely sheltered, Moderately exposed, Sheltered, Very sheltered
Salinity preferencesFull (30-40 psu), Low (<18 psu), Reduced (18-30 psu), Variable (18-40 psu)
Depth range0-40
Other preferencesNo text entered
Migration PatternSeasonal (reproduction)

Habitat Information

The species is found on a wide variety of coasts round the British Isles. It occasionally settles from the plankton as high as the mid tide level but is more typically found much further down the shore. The larvae settle out on a variety of algal species. The preferred species in the British Isles include Fucus serratus, Laminaria spp. and on red algal turf, particularly Lomentaria articulata. Also sometimes found on Zostera spp. Lacuna vincta has been recorded in salinities as low as 12-13 psu. Larval settlement from the plankton may occur in water velocities of 2.2m/s. There is a possible inshore migration by subtidal individuals in spring for breeding. The species requires considerable shelter from wave action and water flow. It acquires this shelter by selecting suitable habitats Exposure to adversely strong water currents may result in lifting of the foot and production of long sticky mucus threads allowing passive drifting in the water column to disperse to better conditions.

Life history

Adult characteristics

Reproductive typeGonochoristic (dioecious)
Reproductive frequency Annual protracted
Fecundity (number of eggs)10,000-100,000
Generation time<1 year
Age at maturityInsufficient information
SeasonJanuary - December
Life span<1 year

Larval characteristics

Larval/propagule type-
Larval/juvenile development Planktotrophic
Duration of larval stage1-6 months
Larval dispersal potential Greater than 10 km
Larval settlement periodPeak May/June or September: See additional info.

Life history information

In the field the species survives for a year or less. Survival rates are very low. Only 2-5 percent of the population will reach maturity. An estimate of the number of eggs per female per season is 53,500. Each spawn mass contains 1,000 - 1,500 eggs. The egg mass has a definite ring doughnut shape and the colour of the mass varies with diet. Individual egg size is around 100 microns. Development inside the egg takes 2.5 to 3.5 weeks. Spawning occurs throughout the year but there is a distinct peak. In southern Britain this peak is in winter resulting in main larval settlement in late May / early June. Further north settlement peaks in September. Cold temperatures may delay oviposition. Settlement is probably induced by organic properties of substrata beneficial to the adult rather than the presence of or exudate from other individuals of the species.

Sensitivity reviewHow is sensitivity assessed?

Physical pressures

 IntoleranceRecoverabilitySensitivityEvidence/Confidence
High High Moderate Low
Lacuna vincta uses a variety of seaweed species as substrata. The snail population will be lost along with the weed substrata if removed. The annual life cycle, high fecundity and long planktonic larval stage means that successful recruitment from other populations is likely.
Intermediate High Low Low
Lacuna vincta does not live on the seabed itself. It uses a variety of algal species as substrata. Smothering may affect populations that inhabit substrata close to the seabed such as Zostera spp., Fucus serratus or Rhodophycota. Populations on taller plants like Laminaria spp will be little affected by smothering. The annual life cycle, high fecundity and long planktonic larval stage means that successful recruitment from other populations is likely.
Low Immediate Not sensitive Low
Detritus forms one of the main food sources for this species so increased siltation may be beneficial. Increases in sediment deposition may also hinder locomotion. Once the increase in sedimentation has been removed then the ability to move freely should be restored and recovery should be immediate.
No information
Intermediate High Low Moderate
Lacuna vincta is only found low on the shore. No species of the genus can tolerate long periods of desiccation. The species has some ability to relocate through crawling. Alternatively, dispersal by mucus thread drifting may be used to move away from unfavourable conditions when the tide is in. The annual life cycle, high fecundity and long planktonic larval stage means that successful recruitment from other populations is likely.
Intermediate High Low Moderate
Lacuna vincta is only found low on the shore. No species of the genus can tolerate long periods of emergence. The species has some ability to relocate through crawling. Alternatively, dispersal by mucus thread drifting may be used to move away from unfavourable conditions when the tide is in. The annual life cycle, high fecundity and long planktonic larval stage means that successful recruitment from other populations is likely.
No information
Intermediate High Low Moderate
Increased water flow rates may cause the snail to be washed away or restrict the ability to move and feed. In areas of higher water flow rates, this species selects microhabitats that provide considerable shelter - the dense turf formed by some red algae for example, often in crevices etc. The annual life cycle, high fecundity and long planktonic larval stage means that successful recruitment from other populations is likely.
No information
Intermediate High Low Moderate
The British Isles are near the southern limit of the Lacuna vincta range. Long term increases in temperature may limit the survival of the snail, restricting subsequent distribution. Short term acute temperature increases may cause death. The species distribution extends considerably northwards into colder waters so decreases in water temperature are unlikely to have any effect. Exposure to below zero air temperatures appears to have no effect. The annual life cycle, high fecundity and long planktonic larval stage means that successful recruitment from other populations is likely.
No information
Low Very high Very Low Low
This species probably has very limited facility for visual perception and as such is unlikely to be affected by turbidity. The algal substrata of Lacuna vincta also forms the main food source. Increased turbidity will reduce the photosynthetic capability of the algae and reduce the available food for the snail. However, the species is frequently found in turbid waters such as in estuaries and around the NE coast of England. As such it is unlikely to be particularly sensitive to changes in turbidity. If reduced food quality food causes a decline in condition or fitness then recovery may take a few weeks or months after restoration of food quality.
No information
Intermediate High Low Moderate
Increased wave exposure may cause the snail to be physically damaged, washed away or restrict the ability to move and feed. In areas of higher wave exposure this species selects microhabitats that provide considerable shelter - the dense turf formed by some red algae for example, often in crevices etc. The annual life cycle, high fecundity and long planktonic larval stage means that successful recruitment from other populations is likely.
No information
Tolerant Not relevant Not sensitive Low
This species probably has very limited facility for vibration detection and as such is unlikely to be sensitive to noise.
Tolerant Not relevant Not sensitive Low
This species probably has very limited facility for visual perception and as such is unlikely to be sensitive to visual presence.
High High Moderate Low
The species is small and the shell is probably quite easily damaged, abrasion is likely to cause death. The annual life cycle, high fecundity and long planktonic larval stage means that successful recruitment from other populations is likely.
Tolerant Not relevant Not sensitive Low
The species is mobile and can use mucus thread drifting to move away from unsuitable conditions. Displacement will have no effect

Chemical pressures

 IntoleranceRecoverabilitySensitivityEvidence/Confidence
No information No information No information Not relevant
Insufficient
information
Heavy metal contamination
No information No information No information Not relevant
Insufficient
information
Hydrocarbon contamination
Intermediate High Low Moderate
Observations following the Amoco Cadiz oil spill at Roscoff showed that gastropod populations were greatly reduced. Populations had recovered a year later. The annual life cycle, high fecundity and long planktonic larval stage means that successful recruitment from other populations is likely.
Radionuclide contamination
No information No information No information Not relevant
Insufficient
information
Changes in nutrient levels
Tolerant Not relevant Not sensitive Low
The species occurs on all British and Irish coasts, including lower salinity areas such as estuaries where nutrient loading is likely to be higher than elsewhere. Higher nutrients may benefit the algal substrata and food used by the snail.
Tolerant Not relevant Not sensitive Moderate
The species is found in a range of salinities and has been recorded in salinities as low as 12-13 psu.
No information
Intermediate High Low Very low
Living in sheltered microhabitats with little water exchange, some individuals may die as a result of lowered oxygen concentrations. The annual life cycle, high fecundity and long planktonic larval stage means that successful recruitment from other populations is likely.

Biological pressures

 IntoleranceRecoverabilitySensitivityEvidence/Confidence
No information No information No information Not relevant
Insufficient
information
No information No information No information Not relevant
Insufficient
information
Not relevant Not relevant Not relevant Low
It is highly unlikely that there would be a reason for extraction of this species. Despite its abundance, its small size means that it is too small to eat and not a popular subject for scientific research.
Intermediate High Low Low
Some of the algal species used by the snail as substratum and food may be extracted for commercial use as fertiliser etc (Laminaria spp. for example). The annual life cycle, high fecundity and long planktonic larval stage means that successful recruitment from other populations is likely.

Additional information

Importance review

Policy/legislation

- no data -

Status

Non-native

Importance information

Very limited use in research. National abundance classification is not available but is probably widespread.

Bibliography

  1. Bieler, R., 1992. Gastropod phylogeny and systematics. Annual Review of Ecology and Systematics, 23, 311 -338.

  2. Campbell, A., 1994. Seashores and shallow seas of Britain and Europe. London: Hamlyn.

  3. Fretter, V. & Graham, A., 1994. British prosobranch molluscs: their functional anatomy and ecology, revised and updated edition. London: The Ray Society.

  4. Fretter, V. & Manly, R., 1977. Algal associations of Triclia pullus, Lacuna vincta & Cerithiopsis tuberculosis (Gastropoda) with special reference to the settlement of their larvae. Journal of the Marine Biological Association of the United Kingdom, 57, 999-1017.

  5. Graham, A., 1988. Molluscs: prosobranchs and pyramellid gastropods (2nd ed.). Leiden: E.J. Brill/Dr W. Backhuys. [Synopses of the British Fauna No. 2]

  6. Grahame, J., 1977. Reproductive effort and r- and K- selection in two species of Lacuna (Gastropoda: Prosobranchia). Marine Biology, 40, 217-224.

  7. Grahame, J., 1994. Energetics of growth and reproduction in 2 species of chink shells (Lacuna, Mollusca, Prosobranchia). Cahiers de Biologie Marine. 35, 327-338.

  8. Hayward, P., Nelson-Smith, T. & Shields, C. 1996. Collins pocket guide. Sea shore of Britain and northern Europe. London: HarperCollins.

  9. Hayward, P.J. & Ryland, J.S. (ed.) 1995b. Handbook of the marine fauna of North-West Europe. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

  10. Howson, C.M. & Picton, B.E., 1997. The species directory of the marine fauna and flora of the British Isles and surrounding seas. Belfast: Ulster Museum. [Ulster Museum publication, no. 276.]

  11. Jacobs, R.P.W.M., 1980. Effects of the Amoco Cadiz oil spill on the seagrass community at Roscoff with special reference to the benthic infauna. Marine Ecology Progress Series, 2, 207-212.

  12. Martel, A. & Chia, F.S., 1991a. Oviposition, larval abundance, in situ larval growth and recruitment of the herbivorous gastropod, Lacuna vincta in kelp canopies of Barkley Sound, Vancouver Island (British Columbia). Marine Biology, 110, 237-247.

  13. Martel, A. & Diefenbach, T., 1993. Effects of body size, water currents and microhabitat on mucous thread drifting in post-metamorphic gastropods, Lacuna spp. Marine Ecology Progress Series, 19, 215-220.

  14. Padilla, D.K., Dittman, D.E., Franz, J. & Sladek, R., 1996. Radular production rates in 2 species of Lacuna, Turton (Gastropoda: Littorinidae). Journal of Molluscan Studies, 62, 275-280.

  15. Ponder, W.F. & Lindberg, D.R., 1997. Towards a phylogeny of gastropod molluscs: an analysis using morphological characters. Zoological Journal of the Linnean Society, 119, 83-265.

  16. Taylor, J.D.(ed.), 1996. Origin and Evolutionary Radiation of the Mollusca. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

Citation

This review can be cited as:

Jackson, A. 2007. Lacuna vincta Banded chink shell. In Tyler-Walters H. and Hiscock K. (eds) Marine Life Information Network: Biology and Sensitivity Key Information Reviews, [on-line]. Plymouth: Marine Biological Association of the United Kingdom. Available from: http://www.marlin.ac.uk/species/detail/1287

Last Updated: 07/06/2007