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Species Name: Nerita fulgurans Gmelin, 1791
Common Name: Antillean Nerite
Lightning Nerite
Synonymy: None
  1. TAXONOMY

    Kingdom Phylum/Division Class: Order: Family: Genus:
    Animalia Mollusca Gastropoda Neritopsina Neritidae Nerita

    Species Description

    Adult Nerita fulgurans ranges between ¾ inch and 1 inch in size. It has a rounded, domed shell with pronounced spiral ridges varying in thickness and separated by deep grooves (Smith 1951, Abbot 1954). The shell is patterned with vertical stripes or blurred crossing patterns of white, creamy yellow, gray, and black, perpendicular to the ridges. The underside of the shell is pale blue, concave with two large, low, poorly defined teeth on either side of the opening (Smith 1951, Abbot 1954). There are also a number of smaller teeth on the inside of the lip. The base of the shell around the opening is flattened. The operculum is a pale yellow gray (Smith 1951, Abbot 1954).

    Potentially Misidentified Species

    Nerita fulgurans is similar to N. tesselata. Differences include a much paler operculum compared to N. tesselata's dark brown one, a wider opening, and slightly more defined teeth (Smith 1951, Abbot 1954).

  2. HABITAT AND DISTRIBUTION

    Habitat & Regional Occurence

    Nerita fulgurans is found in small pockets through Southeast Florida (Boca Raton and south), Bermuda and some Caribbean islands (Abbot 1954, Frey 2011). Like related nerites, N. fulgurans occurs in high rocky intertidal zones (Stephenson & Stephenson 1950, Gilinsky 1984). It can also be found near sandy shores with associated seagrass beds, in mangrove stands and forests, and on muddy cobblestone shores. N. fulgurans prefers brackish water (Chiussi et al. 2001, Frey 2011).

    Physical Tolerances

    Not much is known about the physical tolerances of N. fulgurans, although they are adversely affected by sediment in the water column (Gilinsky 1984). They likely have a fair range of salinity tolerance but may respond badly to extremes in salinity (Frey 2011).

  3. LIFE HISTORY AND POPULATION BIOLOGY

    Size, Lifespan & Reproduction

    N. fulgurans has a lifespan of up to 6 years (Powell & Cummins 1985). It is mature at a size of about ¾ of an inch. The mating of this species has not been studied, but is likely similar to those of other nerites, in which the male positions himself on top of and at a slight angle to the female and deposits spermatophore packets via a tube connecting the male's cephalic penis and the female's genital opening. The female then stores these spermatophore packets for future use (Chislett 1969). Life history traits such as production of egg sacs, larval dispersal, and duration of juvenile life can vary significantly even between similar or closely related species and thus cannot be inferred for this species. However, it is likely that N. fulgurans incorporates spherulites, small, rounded, hard inorganic objects produced by the female, into their egg sacs for protection. Congeners Nerita peloronta, Nerita tessellata, and Nerita versicolor, occurring in overlapping ranges and the same habitats, are all known to incorporate spherulites into their egg casings (Andrews 1937). N. fulgurans however does not commonly co-occur with these congeners (Stephenson & Stephenson 1950).

  4. PHYSICAL TOLERANCES

    No information is available at this time

  5. COMMUNITY ECOLOGY

    Like most nerites, N. fulgurans is herbivorous, grazing on the surface of hard substrata and consuming microalgae. Likely predators include carnivorous gastropods, octopus, birds and fish (Wodinsky 1969, Bovbjerg 1984, Chiussi & Diaz 2002). Pufferfish, which prey on a variety of gastropods, are sometimes found in the same habitat (Chiussi et al, 2001). N. fulgurans actively avoids slow-moving predators using a combination of chemical and visual cues (Chiussi and Diaz 2002). It coexists with some hermit crab species (Chiussi 2001). It is possible that small hermit crabs make use of vacant N. fulgurans shells.

  6. ADDITIONAL INFORMATION

    No information is available at this time

  7. REFERENCES

    Abbot RT. 1954. American Seashells. D. Van. Nostrand Company Inc. Toronto.

    Andrews, E. A. 1937. Spherulites as Specific Characters in Certain Gastropods. Blackwell Publishing, Transactions of the American Microscopical Society, 56: 237-242.

    Bovbjerg, R. V. 1984. Habitat Selection in Two Intertidal Snails, Genus Nerita. Bulletin of Marine Science, 34: 185-196.

    Chislett, G. R. 1969. Comparative Aspects of the Ecology of Three Nerita (Mollusca: Gastropoda) Species From Different Locations in Barbados, W.I. MS thesis. McGill University, Montreal.

    Chiussi, R. H., Diaz, D. Rittschoff, R. B. Forward Jr. 2001. Orientation of the Hermit Crab Clibanarius antillensis: Effects of Visual and Chemical Cues. Journal of Crustacean Biology, 21: 593-605.

    Chiussi, R., and Humberto D. 2002. A Laboratory study on the visual and chemical orientation of the gastropod Nerita fulgurans Gmelin, 1791. Marine and Freshwater Behaviour and Physiology 35: 167-177.

    Gilinsky, N. L. 1984. Does Archaeogastropod Respiration Fail in Turbid Water? Palaeobiology, 10: 459-468.

    Frey, M. A. 2011. “Neritopsine Gastropods: Nerita fulgurans, Gmelin, 1791”. http://neritopsine.lifedesks.org/pages/623 Accessed Nov. 8, 2011.

    Morris, P. A. 1975. A Field Guide to Shells; Atlantic and Gulf Coasts and the West Indies (The Peterson Field Guide Series) 3rd Ed. Houghton Mifflin Co. Boston, New York.

    Powell, E. N, and H. Cummins. 1985. Are Molluscan Maximum Life Spans Determined by Long-Term Cycles in Benthic Communities? Oecologia, 67: 177-182.

    Smith, M. 1951. East Coast Marine Shells, 4th Ed. Edwards Brothers Inc. Ann Arbor, Michigan

    Stephenson, T. A., and A. Stephenson. 1950. Life between Tide Marks in North America: the Florida Keys. Journal of Ecology, 38: 354-402.

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Page last updated: 22 October 2012

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