Growth patterns of the topshell Phorcus lineatus (da Costa, 1778) in northern Iberia deduced from shell sclerochronology
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AuthorGarcía Escárzaga, Asier; Gutiérrez Zugasti, Fernando Igor; Schöne, Bernd R.; Cobo García, Adolfo; Martín Chivelet, Javier; González Morales, Manuel Ramón
Combined shell growth pattern and oxygen isotope analysis has become a powerful approach in palaeoclimate and archaeological studies for reconstructing palaeoclimate conditions and littoral exploitation patterns, respectively. Recent investigations have shown that the gastropod Phorcus lineatus (da Costa, 1778) forms its shell in conditions of near equilibrium with the oxygen isotope signature of the seawater environment, demonstrating the utility of this species for reconstruction of sea surface temperature and determination of the season of harvest in archaeological studies. In contrast, the shell growth patterns of this species have received virtually no attention despite providing information on the rate and timing of shell growth that is crucial for correctly interpreting environmental proxies derived from shell geochemistry. In this paper, we compare microgrowth patterns and isotopic profiles of four modern individuals of the gastropod P. lineatus from northern Iberia to determine the timing and periodicity of subannual growth markers within the shells. Results of this sclerochronological study showed the presence of two types of growth lines/increments: i) large-scale accretionary units formed with variable periodicity, and ii) small-scale accretionary units formed by micro growth lines and increments determined by semidiurnal tidal cycles. Results suggest that shells grew uninterruptedly during early ontogeny. However, older specimens exhibited growth cessation/slowdown during summer and winter/spring. Therefore, shell growth rate is not only controlled by environmental conditions, but also by ontogenetic age and/or endogenous rhythms. A high correlation was found between seawater temperature derived from shell oxygen isotopes and instrumental seawater temperature (r2 = 0.88–0.98; p-values < 0.0001). This study shows that establishing accurate growth patterns of the topshell P. lineatus is essential for correctly reconstructing past seawater temperature conditions in palaeoclimate studies and for determining with higher precision the season(s) when the subfossil shells were collected by humans.