Species Description: The valves of the buttercup lucine, Anodontia alba, are oval to circular, inflated, and of equal size (Andrews 1994). A series of weak teeth forms a hinge that holds the valves together. Exteriorly, the shell is white with uneven concentric growth lines. A yellowish orange background and two muscle scars can be seen on the interior of empty shells. The anterior scar runs parallel to the pallial line where the mantle tissue is attached (Andrews 1994; Abbott & Morris 1995).
Potentially Misidentified Species: The buttercup lucine is similar in appearance to the chalky buttercup, Anodontia philippiana (recently reclassified as A. (Pegophysema) schrammi, Taylor & Glover 2005). However, the shell of the chalky buttercup is larger (up to 10 cm), the interior is white, and the anterior muscle scar on the inside of the shell lies at a 30° angle to the pallial line instead of running parallel as in A. alba (Andrews 1994; Abbott & Morris 1995).
Regional Occurrence: The range of A. alba extends from Bermuda and North Carolina to Florida, throughout the Gulf of Mexico, from the Yucatán Peninsula to Costa Rica and other locations in the Caribbean (Andrews 1994). Populations can be found in shallow waters around inlets, at bay margins, in hypersaline lagoons (see ‘Salinity’ below), and in nearshore waters over 1 m deep (Ruppert & Fox 1988). Moore & López (1972) suggested that A. alba preferred muddy or fine grain sediments, where they burrowed to depths of 22 cm.
Age, Size, Lifespan: The buttercup lucine is a small to medium-sized bivalve, ranging from about 3 to over 6 cm in length (Moore & López 1972; Andrews 1994). Studies on populations from Miami, Florida show that growth is substantial in the first year of life, with only small increases in size thereafter (Moore & López 1972). Lifespan varies with environmental conditions and other factors.
Abundance: Little is known about the abundance of A. alba in the IRL, but the bivalve is considered a common species on beaches along the Florida coast (Moore & López 1972; Andrews 1994).
Reproduction & Embryology: Information detailing the reproduction and embryology of A. alba is scarce. Populations in southern Florida have been documented to reproduce year-round, with peak spawning occurring once in the winter and once in the summer season (Moore & López 1972). Size at sexual maturity is about 1.6 to 1.8 cm.
Temperature: Little information is available concerning the thermal tolerances of A. alba. However, its natural range encompasses warm temperate to tropical climate zones. This pattern of distribution suggests that the bivalve populations prefer and/or require somewhat warm waters in order to thrive.
Salinity: The buttercup lucine is most abundant in high salinity areas such as offshore or nearshore habitats, in hypersaline lagoons and around tidal inlets (Ruppert & Fox 1988; Andrews 1994).
Predators: Little information is available concerning the predators of the buttercup lucine, but the bivalve is likely preyed upon by a variety of birds, fishes and crustaceans.
Abbott, RT & PA Morris. 1995. Shells of the Atlantic and Gulf Coasts and the West Indies, 4th Edition. Houghton Mifflin. New York, NY. USA. 350 pp.
Andrews, J. 1994. A Field Guide to Shells of the Florida Coast. Gulf Publishing. Houston, TX. USA. 182 pp.
Moore, HB & NN Lopez. 1972. A contribution to the ecology of the lamellibranch Anodontia alba. Bull. Mar. Sci. 22: 381-390.
Ruppert, EE & RS Fox. 1988. Seashore Animals of the Southeast: A guide to common shallow-water invertebrates of the southeastern Atlantic coast. Univ. South Carolina Press. Columbia, SC. 429 pp.
Taylor, JD & EA Glover. 2005. Cryptic diversity of chemosymbiotic bivalves: a systematic revision of worldwide Anodontia (Mollusca: Bivalvia: Lucinidae). System. Biodiv. 3: 281-338.