The common Atlantic marginella, Prunum apicinum, is conical with a smooth, short spire and three to four whorls (Andrews 1994; Abbot & Morris 1995). The aperture is long and narrow with a thick outer lip that is notched at the base, and a columella with four distinct folds. Shell color varies from highly polished cream or yellow to grayish tan with a white outer lip bearing reddish brown spots.
Potentially Misidentified Species:
The shape and size of P. apicinum distinguish the species from other marginellas and olives. Of these, the bell marginella, P. bellum, and the orange marginella, P. carneum, may be the most easily confused. The bell marginella is smaller than P. apicium, longer and more slender, and usually white throughout (Abbot & Morris 1995). The orange marginella is generally larger and shiny orange in color, with white bands on the body whorl.
II. HABITAT & DISTRIBUTION
The range of P. apicinum extends from North Carolina through the Caribbean and Gulf of Mexico to the Yucatán (Andrews 1994; Abbot & Morris 1995). Individuals are found on submerged tidal flats and in shallow seagrass beds.
Indian River Lagoon (IRL) Distribution:
P. apicinum can be found throughout the IRL on sand flats and in shallow seagrass beds.
III. LIFE HISTORY & POPULATION
Age, Size, Lifespan:
The common Atlantic marginella is a small gastropod with an average length of 12 mm (Andrews 1994; Abbot & Morris 1995).
Little information exists concerning the abundance of P. apicinum, but it is considered the most common of the marginellas throughout the southeast United States (Abbot & Morris 1995).
IV. PHYSICAL TOLERANCES
Temperature & Salinity:
Little information is available concerning the physical tolerances of P. apicinum. However, its natural range encompasses marine and estuarine habitats in tropical and subtropical climate zones. This pattern of distribution suggests that marginella populations prefer and/or require warm, saline waters in order to thrive.
V. COMMUNITY ECOLOGY
Information on the diet of P. apicinum is scarce, but the species likely scavenges organic material from the sand.
Like other small snails, P. apicinum is probably preyed upon by a variety of fishes, crustaceans and larger predatory snails.
Although there are no obligate associations documented between the common Atlantic marginella and other species, P. apicinum is commonly found alongside organisms from the tidal flats and seagrass beds in which it resides. For more extensive information on these ecosystems and their associated species found in and around the IRL, please visit the Tidal Flat and Seagrass habitat pages.
VI. SPECIAL STATUS
VII. LITERATURE CITED & OTHER USEFUL REFERENCES
Abbott, RT & PA Morris. 1995. Shells of the Atlantic and Gulf Coasts and the West Indies, 4th Edition. Houghton Mifflin. New York, NY. USA. 350 pp.
Andrews, J. 1994. A Field Guide to Shells of the Florida Coast. Gulf Publishing. Houston, TX. USA. 182 pp.
Report by: LH Sweat,
Smithsonian Marine Station at Fort Pierce
Submit additional information, photos or comments
Page last updated: 28 September 2010
© 2010 Smithsonian Institution