The body of keyhole limpets attaches to tidal zone substrates in varying conditions via a dual mode attachment mechanism, using either suction or glue-like adhesion.

Edit Hook


"The attachment mechanism used by limpets (Lottia) in the rocky, wave-swept intertidal zone of California was determined during high tide and low tide. The two mechanisms that limpets are known to use, suction and glue-like adhesion, were distinguished by measuring the limpets' attachment forces in shear and by staining for glue-like residues where the limpets had been attached. The results show that approximately 73% of limpets at high tide use suction, while the rest use glue-like adhesion. Conversely, approximately 75% of limpets at low tide use glue-like adhesion, while the rest use suction. The normal tenacity of limpets was also measured at high and low tide. The mean tenacity at high tide was significantly less than that at low tide. From these data it was estimated that the mean tenacity of glue-like adhesion is approximately 0.23 MN/sq m and the mean tenacity of suction adhesion is approximately 0.09 MN/sq m. It is hypothesized that the cycle of alternating attachment mechanisms is linked to the limpets foraging cycles." (Smith 1992:205)

"Naturally, nothing precludes an organism from using some combination of adhesive mechanisms; and determining relative contributions can be sticky…limpets use suction mainly when they need mobility, relying on glue rather than continuous muscular effort for longer term attachment (Ellem, Furst, and Zimmerman 2002). They don't, though, use Stefan adhesion (Smith 1992)." (Vogel 2003:429)

Comparative Biomechanics: Life's Physical World, Second EditionJune 17, 2013
Steven Vogel

Journal article
Alternation between attachment mechanisms by limpets in the fieldJournal of Experimental Marine Biology and EcologyAugust 7, 2003
Andrew M. Smith

Journal article
Shell clamping behaviour in the limpet Cellana tramosericaJournal of Experimental BiologyFebruary 1, 2002
Ellem, Gary K.; Furst, John E.; Zimmerman, Kenneth D.

Edit References

Living System/s

Rough Keyhole LimpetDiodora asperaSpecies

Edit Living Systems