Geo-Marine Letters

, Volume 28, Issue 5–6, pp 309–325 | Cite as

Shell growth and oxygen isotopes in the topshell Osilinus turbinatus: resolving past inshore sea surface temperatures

  • Marcello A. ManninoEmail author
  • Kenneth D. Thomas
  • Melanie J. Leng
  • Hilary J. Sloane


Shells of the rocky shore intertidal gastropod Osilinus turbinatus (von Born), often abundant in archaeological deposits in the Mediterranean region, are a potential source of data on palaeotemperature, palaeoseasonality and archaeological seasonality. To evaluate this species as a climate archive, investigations of annual patterns of shell growth and of monthly variations in oxygen isotopes in shell carbonates were made on different populations in NW Sicily. Mark-recapture experiments at San Vito lo Capo and Mazzaforno show that O. turbinatus grows almost continuously throughout the year but at different rates in different seasons. Around 75% of the yearly shell growth occurs in the autumn and winter. On average, larger/older shells produce narrower annual growth increments than smaller/younger ones. Conspicuous growth lines in larger/older shells show that growth stops during the hottest part of the summer. Oxygen isotope analyses on monthly collected shells of O. turbinatus from three shores (Cala Grande, Monte Cofano and Mazzaforno) show that the isotope values record temperature variations through the year. In all the datasets, surface seawater temperatures (SSTs) calculated from δ18OSHELL mostly underestimate measured SSTs, offsets being generally greater in summer. Minimum annual offsets range from 0.0°C to 0.7°C and maximum annual offsets from 3.1°C to 8.7°C. δ18OSHELL values fail to record temperatures higher than 25°C. Careful selection of shells to be analysed can reduce offsets between δ18OSHELL temperature estimates and measured SSTs for many parts of the year, except the hottest. Allowing for this, shells of O. turbinatus offer good potential as climate archives and for archaeological studies of seasonal patterns of human foraging for shellfish.


Oxygen Isotope Cala Growth Increment Shell Growth Shell Carbonate 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.


Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.


  1. Alyakrinskaya IO (2004) Adaptations of certain Mediterranean mollusks to living in the littoral zone. Biol Bull 31:493–504Google Scholar
  2. Antonioli F, Chemello R, Improta S, Riggio S (1999) The Dendropoma (Mollusca Gastropoda, Vermetidae) intertidal reef formations and their palaeoclimatological use. Mar Geol 161:155–170CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. Bailey GN, Deith MR, Shackleton NJ (1983) Oxygen isotope analysis and seasonality determinations: limits and potential of a new technique. Am Antiq 48:390–398CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. Barrera E, Tevesz MJS (1990) Oxygen and carbon isotopes: utility for environmental interpretation of recent and fossil invertebrate skeletons. In: Carter JG (ed) Skeletal biomineralization: patterns, processes and evolutionary trends. Van Nostrand Reinhold, New York, pp 557–566Google Scholar
  5. Böhm F, Joachimski MM, Wolf-Christian D, Eisenhauer A, Lehnert H, Reitner J, Wörheide G (2000) Oxygen isotope fractionation in marine aragonite of coralline sponges. Geochim Cosmochim Acta 64:1695–1703CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. Burman J, Schmitz B (2005) Periwinkle (Littorina littorea) intrashell δ18O and δ13C records from the mid-Holocene Limfjord region, Denmark: a new high-resolution palaeoenvironmental proxy approach. Holocene 15:567–575CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. Chelazzi G, Focardi S (1982) A laboratory study on the short-term zonal oscillations of the trochid Monodonta turbinata (Born) (Mollusca: Gastropoda). J Exp Mar Biol Ecol 65:263–273CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. Clark GR (2005) Daily growth lines in some living Pectens (Mollusca: Bivalvia), and some applications in a fossil relative: time and tide will tell. Palaeogeogr Palaeoclimatol Palaeoecol 228:26–42CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  9. Crothers JH (2001) Common topshells: an introduction to the biology of Osilinus lineatus with notes on other species in the genus. Field Stud 10:115–160Google Scholar
  10. Deith MR, Shackleton NJ (1988) Oxygen isotope analyses of marine molluscs from Franchthi Cave. In: Shackleton JC (ed) Marine molluscan remains from Franchthi cave. Indiana University Press, Bloomington, IN, pp 133–156Google Scholar
  11. Dettman DL, Reische AK, Lohmann KC (1999) Controls on the stable isotope composition of seasonal growth bands in aragonitic fresh-water bivalves (Unionidae). Geochim Cosmochim Acta 63:1049–1057CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  12. Eerkens JW, Herbert GS, Rosenthal JS, Spero HJ (2005) Provenance analysis of Olivella biplicata shell beads from the California and Oregon Coast by stable isotope fingerprinting. J Archaeol Sci 32:1501–1514CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  13. Emiliani C, Cardini L, Mayeda T, McBurney CBM, Tongiorgi E (1964) Palaeotemperature analysis of marine molluscs (food refuse) from the site of Arene Candide cave, Italy and the Haua Fteah cave, Cyrenaica. In: Craig S, Miller SL, Wasserburg GJ (eds) Isotopic and cosmic chemistry. North Holland, Amsterdam, pp 133–156Google Scholar
  14. Epstein S, Mayeda TK (1953) Variation of 18O content of waters from natural sources. Geochim Cosmochim Acta 4:213–224CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  15. Evans JW (1972) Tidal growth increments in the cockle Clinocardium nuttalli. Science 176:416–417CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  16. Fenger T, Surge D, Schöne B, Milner N (2007) Sclerochronology and geochemical variation in limpet shells (Patella vulgata): a new archive to reconstruct coastal sea surface temperature. Geochem Geophys Geosyst 8:Q07001 doi: 10.1029/2006GC001488 CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  17. Gianguzzi L, La Mantia A (2000) Caratteristiche fisiografiche e bioclimatiche. In: Gianguzzi L, Ottonello D (eds) La Riserva di Monte Cofano (Sicilia nord-occidentale). Regione Siciliana—Assessorato Regionale Agricoltura e Foreste, Palermo, pp 11–24Google Scholar
  18. Goodwin DH, Schöne BR, Dettman DL (2003) Resolution and fidelity of oxygen isotopes as paleotemperature proxies in bivalve mollusk shells: models and observations. Palaios 18:110–125CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  19. Grossman EL, Ku TL (1986) Oxygen and carbon isotope fractionation in biogenic aragonite: temperature effects. Chem Geol 59:59–74CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  20. Houlihan DF, Innes AJ (1982) Oxygen consumption, crawling speeds, and cost of transport in four Mediterranean intertidal gastropods. J Comp Physiol B147:113–121Google Scholar
  21. Mannino MA, Thomas KD (2001) Intensive Mesolithic exploitation of coastal resources? Evidence from a shell deposit on the Isle of Portland (southern England) for the impact of human foraging on populations of inter-tidal rocky shore molluscs. J Archaeol Sci 28:1101–1114CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  22. Mannino MA, Thomas KD (2007) Determining the season of collection of inter-tidal gastropods from δ18O analyses of shell carbonates: modern analogue data and ‘internal analysis’ of data from archaeological shells. In: Milner N, Craig OE, Bailey GN (eds) Shell middens in Atlantic Europe. Oxbow Books, Oxford, pp 111–122Google Scholar
  23. Mannino MA, Spiro BF, Thomas KD (2003) Sampling shells for seasonality: oxygen isotope analysis on shell carbonates of the inter-tidal gastropod Monodonta lineata (da Costa) from populations across its modern range and from a Mesolithic site in southern Britain. J Archaeol Sci 30:667–679CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  24. Mannino MA, Thomas KD, Leng MJ, Piperno M, Tusa S, Tagliacozzo A (2007) Marine resources in the Mesolithic and Neolithic at the Grotta dell’Uzzo (Sicily): evidence from isotope analyses of marine shells. Archaeometry 49:117–133CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  25. Menzies R, Cohen Y, Lavie B, Nevo E (1992) Niche adaptation in two marine gastropods, Monodonta turbiformis and M. turbinata. Boll Zool 59:297–302CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  26. Regis MB (1972) Étude comparée de la croissance des Monodontes (Gastéropodes Prosobranches) en Manche et le long des côtes atlantiques et méditerranéennes françaises. In: Battaglia B (ed) Proc 5th European Marine Biology Symposium. Piccin, Padova, pp 259–267Google Scholar
  27. Schifano G (1983) Allometric growth as influenced by environmental temperature in Monodonta turbinata shells. Palaeogeogr Palaeoclimatol Palaeoecol 44:215–222CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  28. Schifano G, Censi P (1983) Oxygen isotope composition and rate of growth of Patella coerulea, Monodonta turbinata and M. articulata shells from the western coast of Sicily. Palaeogeogr Palaeoclimatol Palaeoecol 42:305–311CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  29. Schifano G, Censi P (1986) Oxygen and carbon isotope composition, magnesium and strontium contents of calcite from a subtidal Patella coerulea shell. Chem Geol 58:325–331Google Scholar
  30. Schöne BR (2003) A ‘clam-ring’ master-chronology constructed from a short-lived bivalve mollusc from the northern Gulf of California, USA. Holocene 13:39–49CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  31. Schöne BR, Houk SD, Freyre Castro AD, Fiebig J, Kröncke I, Dreyer W, Oschmann W (2005) Daily growth rates in shells of Arctica islandica: assessing subseasonal environmental controls on a long-lived bivalve mollusk. Palaios 20:78–92CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  32. Schöne BR, Rodland DL, Wehrmann A, Heidel B, Oschmann W, Zhang Z, Fiebig J, Beck L (2007) Combined sclerochronologic and oxygen isotope analysis of gastropod shells (Gibbula cineraria, North Sea): life-history traits and utility as a high-resolution environmental archive for kelp forests. Mar Biol 120:1237–1252CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  33. Shackleton NJ (1973) Oxygen isotope analysis as a means of determining season of occupation of prehistoric midden sites. Archaeometry 15:133–141CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  34. Shackleton NJ (1974) Oxygen isotopic demonstration of winter seasonal occupation. Libyca 22:69–70Google Scholar
  35. Valli G, Vio E (1975) Studio di alcuni fattori che condizionano l’attività di Monodonta turbinata (Born) (Gastropoda: Prosobranchia) ad Aurisina (Trieste). Boll Pesca Piscicolt Idrobiol 30:127–134Google Scholar
  36. Valli G, Nodari P, Vio E (1977) Aspetti della riproduzione e biometria in Monodonta turbinata (Born) del Golfo di Trieste. Boll Soc Adriat Sci 61:61–86Google Scholar
  37. Valli G, Modonutti V, Baron MT, Negusanti JS (2003) Considerazioni sulla strategia riproduttiva e sulla biometria di Monodonta turbinata (Born, 1780) (Gastropoda, Prosobranchia) in due stazioni del Golfo di Trieste. Hydrores Inf 20:9–22Google Scholar
  38. Wefer G, Berger WH (1991) Isotope paleontology: growth and composition of extant calcareous species. Mar Geol 100:207–248CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  39. Williamson P, Kendall MA (1981) Population age structure and growth of the trochid Monodonta lineata determined from shell rings. J Mar Biol Assoc UK 61:1011–1026CrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 2008

Authors and Affiliations

  • Marcello A. Mannino
    • 1
    Email author
  • Kenneth D. Thomas
    • 1
  • Melanie J. Leng
    • 2
    • 3
  • Hilary J. Sloane
    • 2
  1. 1.Institute of ArchaeologyUniversity College LondonLondonUK
  2. 2.NERC Isotope Geosciences LaboratoryBritish Geological SurveyKeyworthUK
  3. 3.School of GeographyUniversity of NottinghamNottinghamUK

Personalised recommendations