Patellogastropods are grazers, and feed by removing diatoms, algal spores, and small bits of plant material from the substrate. Very few species are able to feed directly on large algae, although there are several species that live on algae or marine angiosperms and feed directly on the host plant. Often the shape of the radular teeth reflects the limpet's dietary preference—equal-sized blunt teeth are often seen in species that feed on coralline algae, while species that graze on rock substrates have unequal-sized, pointed teeth, and species that feed on marine angiosperms have broad, flat-topped teeth. Some tropical patellogastropods have small "gardens" of specific algal species that are maintained directly adjacent to the limpets' home site on the substrate.
Predators of patellogastropods include predatory gastropods, sea stars, nemertean worms, fishes, lizards, small mammals, and shore birds. Shore birds such as oystercatch-ers are especially voracious predators and can remove limpets in such numbers that entire expanses of the intertidal can become green from algal growth due to the lack of limpet feeding.
Was this article helpful?