Periodicity of extinction and recolonization of the West Indian topshell Cittarium pica in the Quaternary of Bermuda (Gastropoda: Trochoidea)


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Hermit-crab transported shells of the West Indian top shell Cittarium pica occur in numerous terrestrial fossil deposits on Bermuda, which is the most remote outpost of this Caribbean species. Cittarium is so far known only from deposits of interglacial ages corresponding to marine isotope stages (MIS) 11, 9, 5e, and 1 (Holocene). In at least the cases of MIS 11 and 5e, Cittarium appears at the very beginning of the interglacial. The species is definitely absent from well-stratified cave deposits of the last glacial (MIS 4–2). It is hypothesized that colder sea-surface temperatures (SSTs) during glacial periods caused Cittarium to be extirpated on Bermuda, and that it has made at least four independent colonizations of the island in the past 400 000 years. Because of the limited larval life of Cittarium, the window for colonization may be a very narrow period at the onset of interglacials when the SST has risen sufficiently to make Bermuda habitable but the velocity of the Gulf Stream is still sufficiently rapid to transport viable larvae from the Bahamas. © 2013 The Linnean Society of London, Biological Journal of the Linnean Society, 2013, 110, 235–243.