A comparative study of morphometry in shell-bearing molluscs



A comparative study was conducted on the ontogenetic variation in morphometry of a total of 29 shell-bearing molluscan species occurring on an intertidal stony shore in south-western Japan. The relationships between shell size and total weight and between shell size and flesh weight were all highly significant on logarithmic scales with the slopes having values of about three. The arcsine-transformed proportion of shell weight out of total weight varied among and within different morphological/taxonomic groups, ranging from 58.6% in Acanthochiton defilippi to 76.4% in Nerita albicilla. The allometry of shell weight was analysed by regressing the arcsine transformed values of the proportion of shell weight against total weight in each species. The slope (β) of the regression varied substantially among different taxa, with all three possible cases, i.e. β > 0, β≊ 0 and β < 0, being observed. Thus, depending on molluscan species, the proportion of shell mass either (1) increases, (2) does not change, or (3) decreases with increasing body mass. Variation in the value of β was to some extent explained by the proportion of shell mass of young individuals of each species; species with relatively high proportions of shell mass in small individuals tended to have low β. Interspecifically, it was shown that shell mass scaled in proportion to body mass for this assemblage of 29 species. Consideration was given to the theoretical background of variation in shell morphometry, with particular reference to the shell as a defence structure.