Limpets and other molluscs rely on shells to protect them from physical damage, predation, dehydration, etc. If the shell becomes damaged, this may significantly impair its function. In this work, experiments were carried out to investigate the effect of damage on the strength of shells of the common limpet (Patella vulgata) and their ability to repair this damage effectively. Shells were damaged in three ways: (i) low-energy impacts; (ii) abrasion of the outer layer; and (iii) creation of a small hole in the apex of the shell. Shells were left to repair for several time periods (0, 10, 30 and 60 days). The mechanical strength was evaluated by impacting the shells with a weight dropped from a known height. The damage reduced the strength (defined as impact energy to failure) by 50–70% depending on damage type. After 60 days, limpets in all three groups had repaired their shells significantly, bringing their strength to 79–91% of the control value (in each case, samples were statistically indistinguishable from their control counterparts). Measurements of the thickness of the shell at the apex suggest that the main effect of low-energy impact and abrasion is reduction in thickness, which correlates linearly with the impact energy needed for failure. The method of repair is believed to be by the growth of fresh shell material on the inside of the shell, though we could not identify this new material specifically. Even after 60 days, the shells were still statistically thinner than the controls. Consequently, there may be some other strengthening mechanism at work. This work has demonstrated the remarkable ability of limpets to detect the mechanical weakening of their shells caused by relatively subtle forms of damage and to take appropriate action to restore shell strength. © 2018 The Author(s) Published by the Royal Society. All rights reserved.

Repair and remodelling in the shells of the limpet Patella vulgata / O’Neill, M.; Mala, Riccardo; Cafiso, D.; Bignardi, C.; Taylor, D.. - In: JOURNAL OF THE ROYAL SOCIETY INTERFACE. - ISSN 1742-5689. - ELETTRONICO. - 15:145, 20180299(2018), pp. 1-7. [10.1098/rsif.2018.0299]

Repair and remodelling in the shells of the limpet Patella vulgata

MALA, RICCARDO;Bignardi, C.;Taylor, D.
2018

Abstract

Limpets and other molluscs rely on shells to protect them from physical damage, predation, dehydration, etc. If the shell becomes damaged, this may significantly impair its function. In this work, experiments were carried out to investigate the effect of damage on the strength of shells of the common limpet (Patella vulgata) and their ability to repair this damage effectively. Shells were damaged in three ways: (i) low-energy impacts; (ii) abrasion of the outer layer; and (iii) creation of a small hole in the apex of the shell. Shells were left to repair for several time periods (0, 10, 30 and 60 days). The mechanical strength was evaluated by impacting the shells with a weight dropped from a known height. The damage reduced the strength (defined as impact energy to failure) by 50–70% depending on damage type. After 60 days, limpets in all three groups had repaired their shells significantly, bringing their strength to 79–91% of the control value (in each case, samples were statistically indistinguishable from their control counterparts). Measurements of the thickness of the shell at the apex suggest that the main effect of low-energy impact and abrasion is reduction in thickness, which correlates linearly with the impact energy needed for failure. The method of repair is believed to be by the growth of fresh shell material on the inside of the shell, though we could not identify this new material specifically. Even after 60 days, the shells were still statistically thinner than the controls. Consequently, there may be some other strengthening mechanism at work. This work has demonstrated the remarkable ability of limpets to detect the mechanical weakening of their shells caused by relatively subtle forms of damage and to take appropriate action to restore shell strength. © 2018 The Author(s) Published by the Royal Society. All rights reserved.
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Utilizza questo identificativo per citare o creare un link a questo documento: https://hdl.handle.net/11583/2732008
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