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First observations of hermaphroditism in the patellid limpet Patella piperata Gould, 1846

  • Ricardo Sousa (a1) (a2), Paulo Henriques (a3), Joana Vasconcelos (a4) (a5) (a6), Graça Faria (a2), Rodrigo Riera (a5), Ana Rita Pinto (a2), João Delgado (a2) and Stephen J. Hawkins (a7) (a8)...


Hermaphroditism is thought to be an advantageous strategy common in marine molluscs that exhibit simultaneous, sequential or alternating hermaphroditism. Several species of patellid limpets have previously been shown to be protandrous hermaphrodites. The present study aimed to confirm whether this phenomenon occurs in Patella piperata. Transitional forms of simultaneous protandrous hermaphroditism were found in intermediate size classes of P. piperata, in Madeira (North-eastern Atlantic). Sequential hermaphroditism was confirmed after histological analysis. The overall sex-ratio was biased towards females but approached similar proportions in the larger size classes. Analysis of size at sex change showed that at a shell length of 36 mm 50% of the population probably have changed sex. The results reported confirm the occurrence of sequential hermaphroditism. These findings are of utmost importance to the understanding of the reproductive biology of this species with direct effect on management and conservation of this traditionally harvested limpet.


Corresponding author

Author for correspondence: Joana Vasconcelos, E-mail:


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Journal of the Marine Biological Association of the United Kingdom
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