Sclerochronology uses shell growth lines or bands for the construction of environmental time-series and the measurement of organism growth, but more study is needed to constrain the triggers of the dark cessation bands observed in many bivalve groups. We constructed a database of direct observations of modern growth seasonality across the class Bivalvia and compared the occurrence of seasonal growth bands to environmental data including latitude, temperature, and chlorophyll-a concentration. Bivalves with cold-season (winter) cessations are more common towards the poles, with logistic regression showing that temperature, followed by latitude of occurrence, displays the strongest relationship with occurrence of winter cessation. Remotely sensed and directly measured chlorophyll-a concentration show no significant relationship. Summer cessations are sparse and only weakly associated with environmental controls but are concentrated at the subtropical latitudes among temperate bivalves at their equatorial extremes. The rarity of summer cessations can be explained by the limited annual ranges of temperature in the tropics, combined with the exponential relationship of metabolic rate to temperature leading to a narrow window between normal functioning and mortality at high temperatures. This data suggests that, unless annual temperatures have low variability like in equatorial or polar regions, the season of growth cessation across bivalves is primarily a function of temperature tolerance through restriction of scope for growth. At most latitudes, growth bands can be interpreted as being primarily triggered by temperature stress, rather than seasonal starvation.