BIOTIC Species Information for Sabellaria alveolata
|Researched by||Angus Jackson||Data supplied by||MarLIN|
|Refereed by||Prof. S. J. Hawkins|
|Scientific name||Sabellaria alveolata||Common name||Honeycomb worm|
|MCS Code||P1116||Recent Synonyms||None|
|Additional Information||At low densities tubes are attached to the substratum along the entire length but at greater densities competition for space results in the tubes overlapping and may cause the tubes to be built outwards, away from the substrate. Tube colour varies according to the colour of sand grains|
|Taxonomy References||Wilson, 1969, Wilson, 1929, Howson & Picton, 1997, Cunningham et al., 1984, Campbell, 1994, Gruet, 1985,|
|Feeding method||Active suspension feeder
|Typical food types||Seston||Habit||Tubiculous|
|Bioturbator||Not relevant||Flexibility||None (< 10 degrees)|
|Height||Reefs can be 1m high||Growth Rate||12 cm reef/year|
|Adult dispersal potential||None||Dependency||Independent|
|General Biology Additional Information||Size refers to individual worms. It is typically gregarious forming colonies of sheets, hummocks or reefs. In Cornwall, their tubes are up to 20 cm in length and around 5 mm in diameter at the external opening. Each tube has an additional porch over the opening. In northern France, the tubes were reported to grow in length at 12 cm/year.
This species appears to be favoured by elevated winter temperatures associated with cooling water discharges (Bamber & Irving, 1997) but growth is inhibited below 5 °CCommunities associated with Sabellaria alveolata are not particularly remarkable being species poor on young dense reef and up to 38 species on older reefs. Honeycomb worm aggregations that bind together mobile cobbles increase heterogeneity.
|Biology References||Wilson, 1969, Gruet, 1986, Wilson, 1929, Cunningham et al., 1984, Wilson, 1971, Campbell, 1994, Gruet, 1985, Holt et al., 1998, Bamber & Irving, 1997,|
|Distribution and Habitat|
|Distribution in Britain & Ireland||In Britain, most abundant on the south and west coasts with isolated records from the south east and east coasts. The northern limit is the Outer Hebrides. It is also found on south, west and north coasts of Ireland.|
|Global distribution||Mediterranean, north Atlantic south to Morocco. The British Isles form the northern limits of the distribution in the north east Atlantic|
|Biogeographic range||Not researched||Depth range||MTL - 10 metres|
|Migratory||Non-migratory / Resident|
|Distribution Additional Information||The honeycomb worm appears to be absent from many exposed peninsulas, probably due to the effects of water movement on recruitment.|
Large to very large boulders
|Physiographic preferences||Open coast
|Biological zone||Mid Eulittoral
|Wave exposure||Very Exposed
|Tidal stream strength/Water flow||Strong (3-6 kn)
Moderately Strong (1-3 kn)
|Salinity||Full (30-40 psu)
|Habitat Preferences Additional Information||Although a hard substratum is required for attachment, there needs to be adequate sand or small shell particles from which to construct the tubes.
It is typically found in the low intertidal but occasionally found subtidally (e.g. in the Severn estuary). It typically colonizes bedrock or large boulders but in some sites binds together small cobbles in a complex with mussels.It has a strong settlement preference for adult tubes or sites currently or previously used by the species.
|Distribution References||Cunningham et al., 1984, Campbell, 1994, Hayward et al., 1996, Holt et al., 1998, NBN, 2002, JNCC, 1999, Picton & Costello, 1998,|
|Reproductive Season||July||Reproductive Location||Insufficient information|
|Reproductive frequency||Annual episodic||Regeneration potential||No|
|Life span||3-5 years||Age at reproductive maturity||<1 year|
|Generation time||Insufficient information||Fecundity||12,000 - 225,000 oocytes per female|
|Egg/propagule size||Insufficient information||Fertilization type||Insufficient information|
|Reproduction Preferences Additional Information||Most individuals have a lifespan of 3 to 5 years but there are records for 7 and even 9 year old individuals. Sabellaria alveolata reefs undergo cycles of development and decay over a period of a few years. Although individual reefs come and go - areas that are good for Sabellaria alveolata tend to remain so.
Spawning occurs each July but actual recruitment levels vary considerably from year to year. Larvae spend between 6 weeks and 6 months in the plankton.
|Reproduction References||Wilson, 1969, Wilson, 1929, Wilson, 1971, Gruet & Lassus, 1983, Gruet, 1985, Holt et al., 1998, Gruet & Lassus, 1983,|