Journal of the Marine Biological Association of the United Kingdom

Research Article

Reproductive cycles of four species of Patella (Mollusca: Gastropoda) on the northern and central Portuguese coast

Pedro A. Ribeiroa1a2a3 c1, Raquel Xaviera1, António M. Santosa1a4 and Stephen J. Hawkinsa2a3a5

a1 CIBIO, Centro de Investigação em Biodiversidade e Recursos Genéticos, Campus Agrário de Vairão, 4485-661 Vairão, Portugal

a2 Marine Biological Association of the United Kingdom, Plymouth, UK

a3 School of Biological Sciences, University of Southampton, Southampton, UK

a4 Departamento de Zoologia-Antropologia, Faculdade de Ciências da Universidade do Porto, 4099-002 Porto, Portugal

a5 School of Ocean Sciences, Menai Bridge, Bangor University, Bangor, Gwynedd, UK


The reproductive cycles of four limpet species, Patella depressa, Patella ulyssiponensis, Patella vulgata and Patella rustica are described for several locations in northern and central Portugal. Patella depressa and P. ulyssiponensis displayed almost continual gonad activity, with two main spawning periods, September–January and March–June, and minor spawning events dispersed throughout the year. Patella vulgata and P. rustica exhibited highly synchronized reproductive cycles, with well-defined breeding and resting periods. Gonad development in P. vulgata started in September and spawning took place from November–December to March. In P. rustica development started in June and spawning occurred from September–October to December–January. Compared to the 1980s these results suggest that breeding periods are becoming longer in southern species and shorter in northern species.

(Received June 09 2008)

(Accepted December 16 2008)

(Online publication April 15 2009)