Biological Invasions

, Volume 9, Issue 8, pp 995–1008 | Cite as

Premature refutation of a human-mediated marine species introduction: the case history of the marine snail Littorina littorea in the Northwestern Atlantic

  • John W. Chapman
  • James T. Carlton
  • M. Renee Bellinger
  • April M. H. Blakeslee
Original Paper


The closely documented spread of the European periwinkle snail, Littorina littorea from Pictou, Nova Scotia in 1840 to New Jersey by 1870, its near absence in pre-European fossil deposits, and its close association with human mechanisms of transport from Europe, are among the clearest evidence of a human-mediated marine introduction ever reported. Genetic data were recently proposed as evidence that North American L. littorea predate European contact and thus, are not introduced. Review of these genetic data and all other data reveals that the simplest explanation of the modern occurrence of this snail in North America is by human introduction.


Littorina littorea Invasion criteria Genetics Introduced species Invasive species Biological invasions 



Cytochrome oxydase I


Cytochrome b


Internal transcribed spacer region



We are grateful to Mitch Cruzan (and students), Portland State University; Mike Behrenfeld, Mark Camara, Michael Banks, and Paul Lang, Oregon State University; George Mpitsos, OSU Hatfield Marine Science Center; Rasmus Nielsen, Cornell University; Jody Hey, Rutgers University; David Reid, The Natural History Museum; Bernd Schoene, Goethe University; Deniz Haydar, University of Groningen, The Netherlands; Amy Chapman, South Beach, Oregon; Katie Chapman, Bowdoin College, Maine; Anthony Ricciardi, Redpath Museum; and John Wares, University of Georgia, for invaluable information, materials and critical comments. We thank the curators of the museums noted above for access to their collections. Financial support for (AMHB) provided by NSF Award OCE 05–03932 to James E. Byers. Susan Gilmont, Judy Mullen, and Janet Webster, Guin Library, OSU, recovered difficult references. We thank the Coastal Ocean Experiment Station for use of their facilities by JWC and MRB. This paper is dedicated to Eliana Sabina Bellinger-Thomas and to Westley James Blakeslee, both born on 12 September 2005.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, Inc. 2007

Authors and Affiliations

  • John W. Chapman
    • 1
  • James T. Carlton
    • 2
  • M. Renee Bellinger
    • 1
  • April M. H. Blakeslee
    • 3
  1. 1.Department of Fisheries and WildlifeOregon State University, Hatfield Marine Science CenterNewportUSA
  2. 2.Maritime Studies ProgramWilliams College—Mystic SeaportMysticUSA
  3. 3.Department of ZoologyUniversity of New HampshireDurhamUSA

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