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The population structure, sex ratio and reproductive potential of limpets (Patella spp.) on natural shores and artificial structures in the Irish Sea

Lookup NU author(s): Hannah Earp, Professor Pip MooreORCiD



This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License (CC BY 4.0).


© 2022 The Authors. Artificial structures often support depauperate communities compared to natural rocky shores. Understanding variation in ecological success across shore types, particularly regarding habitat-forming species or those with structuring roles, is important to determine how artificial structure proliferation may influence ecosystem functioning and services. We investigated the population structure, sex ratio and reproductive potential of limpets on natural shores and artificial structures on Irish Sea coasts. Limpets were generally less abundant and Patella vulgata populations were often male dominated on artificial structures compared to natural shores, suggesting that shore type may influence these factors. P. vulgata length varied across sites within the Irish Sea (nested in coast and shore type) in autumn/winter, as well as temporally across sites along the Welsh coast. There was no difference in the proportion of P. vulgata in advanced stages of gonad development across shore types. The results suggest that rip-rap artificial structures may provide a habitat comparable to natural shores, however, the addition of ecological engineering interventions on artificial structures may allow limpet populations to better approximate those on natural shores.

Publication metadata

Author(s): Earp HS, George R, Brooks PR, Farrugia Drakard V, Thompson BJ, Fisher B, Hayden R, Crowe TP, Moore PJ

Publication type: Article

Publication status: Published

Journal: Marine Environmental Research

Year: 2023

Volume: 184

Print publication date: 01/02/2023

Online publication date: 22/12/2022

Acceptance date: 18/12/2022

Date deposited: 10/01/2023

ISSN (print): 0141-1136

ISSN (electronic): 1879-0291

Publisher: Elsevier Ltd


DOI: 10.1016/j.marenvres.2022.105853

PubMed id: 36584493


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Funder referenceFunder name
European Regional Development Fund