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Shell polymorphism in a southern peripheral population of Cepaea nemoralis (L.) (Pulmonata: Helicidae) in Spain

Biological journal of the Linnean Society 1985 v.25 no.2 pp. 197-208
Cepaea nemoralis, Populus, Pulmonata, absorbance, biochemical pathways, biotopes, calcareous soils, climate, color, environmental factors, groves, humidity, morphs, snails, solar radiation, temperature, topography, Spain
Populations of the land snail Cepaea nemoralis have been investigated at the southern limits of its range in Spain, the Upper Tajo region, in order to analyse the distribution of the species and the variation of polymorphism in relation to environmental conditions. For this purpose two natural subareas, which differ in topography, soil nature, climate and vegetation have been considered. Cepaea nemoralis is confined to the river banks of the area; it is found in open and shaded biotopes of subarea 1 where it is relatively common, and it is almost restricted to shaded biotopes of subarea 2 where it becomes progressively rarer towards the south. Relative abundance of the species may be related to the amount of calcareous soils and climate, the restriction in its southern distribution being probably the result of extreme solar radiation, high temperature and low humidity. The two subareas differ in the frequency of the main polymorphic characters. These differences may be related to the kind of biotope. Subarea 1 richer in more open and exposed biotopes have higher frequencies of yellow, 00000, 00300, and unfused bands, whereas the restriction to poplar groves because of the lack of suitable exposed biotopes in subarea 2 may account for the higher proportion of pink five-bandeds with the bands fused together. This kind of variation with biotope is consistent with an explanation in terms of differences in the temperature absorbance of different morphs and a metabolic response to differences in temperature amplitude of the biotopes. Other characters (lip colour, punctate bands, hyalozonate bands, etc.) are not polymorphic in this region, thus, suggesting that at the periphery environmental conditions are important not only in determining the distribution of the species but exerting a marked effect on the genetic structure of the populations.