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The shell of the Common dog-whelk (Nucella lapillus (L.)) is white and unbanded at most places around the British Isles. However, high frequencies of banding occur on the Buchan coast, around Anglesey and the Menai Straits, on the Cower Peninsula, around the Devon–Somerset border in the Bristol Channel, and especially on the north Cornish coast (reaching a peak between Newquay and Padstow). The frequency of banding is significantly less in older than younger whelks in the same locality, and this change is uncorrelated with the selection against shell shape variation that takes place on exposed shores. It is concluded that banding is a pleiotropic manifestation of physiological variation, and that a study of such variation in different morphs could indicate the importance of different physiological stresses at different stages of the life history of N. lapillus.