BIOTIC Species Information for Polydora ciliata
Click here to view the MarLIN Key Information Review for Polydora ciliata
Researched byLizzie Tyler Data supplied byUniversity of Sheffield
Refereed byThis information is not refereed.
Taxonomy
Scientific namePolydora ciliata Common nameBristleworm
MCS CodeP752 Recent SynonymsNone

PhylumAnnelida Subphylum
Superclass ClassPolychaeta
Subclass OrderSpionida
Suborder FamilySpionidae
GenusPolydora Speciesciliata
Subspecies   

Additional InformationThere has been some confusion in the identification of Polydora ciliata because the characteristics used for separation of the species, such as the number of modified chaetae on the fifth segment, are not stable even in individuals from the same locality. It has been suggested that some other species of Polydora such as P. ligni, P. websteri, P. cirrosa and P. nuchalis may only be varieties of Polydora ciliata (Mustaquim, 1986).
Taxonomy References Fish & Fish, 1996, Hayward & Ryland, 1995b, Mustaquim, 1986,
General Biology
Growth formVermiform segmented
Tubicolous
Feeding methodPassive suspension feeder
Active suspension feeder
Surface deposit feeder
Sub-surface deposit feeder
Mobility/MovementBurrower
Environmental positionEpibenthic
Epilithic
Epizoic
Typical food typesDetritus, suspended particles and occasionally dead barnacles and other dead invertebrates. HabitTubiculous
BioturbatorNot relevant FlexibilityHigh (>45 degrees)
FragilityFragile SizeSmall(1-2cm)
HeightA few milimeters Growth RateInsufficient information
Adult dispersal potential100-1000m DependencyIndependent
SociabilityGregarious
Toxic/Poisonous?No
General Biology Additional Information
  • Mode of life: Polydora ciliata burrows into the shells of oysters, mussels and periwinkles as well as into limestone rock and stones and lithothamnia or other encrusting coralline algae.
  • The species makes a U-shaped tube from small particles (usually of mud, but may be whitish and calcareous if excavating in lithothamnia or other encrusting coralline algae (Hayward & Ryland, 1995). Much of this tube may be embedded in a burrow excavated in limestone rock, shells and calcareous algae, and the two ends extend a few millimetres above the surface of the substratum. It has been suggested that burrowing is achieved by mechanical action of the chaetae, especially those of the 5th segment, but this is open to some doubt as chemical action may also be involved (Fish & Fish, 1996).
  • Feeding method: The species generally feeds on detritus that is removed from the sediment by the two long palps. It also feeds on suspended particles in the water, and on occasions has been observed to eat dead barnacles and other dead invertebrates.
Biology References Fish & Fish, 1996, Hayward & Ryland, 1995b, Hayward & Ryland, 1990,
Distribution and Habitat
Distribution in Britain & IrelandPolydora ciliata is widely distributed around Britain and Ireland.
Global distributionWidely distributed in north-west Europe.
Biogeographic rangeNot researched Depth range
MigratoryNon-migratory / Resident   
Distribution Additional InformationNone entered

Substratum preferencesOther species (see additional information)
Algae
Artificial (e.g. metal/wood/concrete)
Mud
Bedrock
Physiographic preferencesOpen coast
Offshore seabed
Strait / sound
Estuary
Isolated saline water (Lagoon)
Enclosed coast / Embayment
Biological zoneMid Eulittoral
Lower Eulittoral
Sublittoral Fringe
Upper Infralittoral
Lower Infralittoral
Upper Circalittoral
Lower Circalittoral
Wave exposureExposed
Moderately Exposed
Sheltered
Very Sheltered
Extremely Sheltered
Tidal stream strength/Water flowStrong (3-6 kn)
Moderately Strong (1-3 kn)
Weak (<1 kn)
SalinityLow (<18 psu)
Full (30-40 psu)
Variable (18-40 psu)
Habitat Preferences Additional InformationThe species makes a U-shaped tube from small particles (usually of mud, but may be whitish and calcareous if excavating in lithothamnia or other encrusting coralline algae (Hayward & Ryland, 1995). Much of this tube may be embedded in a burrow excavated in limestone rock, shells and calcareous algae, and the two ends extend a few millimetres above the surface of the substratum. It has been suggested that burrowing is achieved by mechanical action of the chaete, especially those of the 5th segment, but this is open to some doubt as chemical action may also be involved (Fish & Fish, 1996).
Distribution References Fish & Fish, 1996, Hayward & Ryland, 1995b, Hayward & Ryland, 1995b,
Reproduction/Life History
Reproductive typeGonochoristic
Developmental mechanismPlanktotrophic
Reproductive SeasonFebruary to June Reproductive LocationAdult burrow
Reproductive frequencyAnnual protracted Regeneration potential No
Life span1-2 years Age at reproductive maturity<1 year
Generation time<1 year Fecundity1200 - 8800
Egg/propagule size170µm Fertilization typeInsufficient information
Larvae/Juveniles
Larval/Juvenile dispersal potential>10km Larval settlement periodInsufficient information
Duration of larval stage1-2 months   
Reproduction Preferences Additional Information
  • Sperm are drawn into the burrow of the female in the respiratory current and the eggs are laid in a string of capsules. A single female produces many capsules, each containing up to about 60 eggs, the individual capsules being attached by two threads to the wall of the burrow. Capsules are brooded for about a week before the larvae are released into the water column.
  • Spawning period varies, from February until June in northern England (Gudmundsson, 1985) and in the Black Sea spawning lasted from April - September (Murina, 1997). In Belgium (Daro & Polk, 1973) and northern England (Gudmundsson, 1985) three or even four generations succeeded one another during the spawning period. The number of offspring produced per female varied from 200 to 2200.
  • After a week, the larvae emerge and are believed to have a pelagic life from two to six weeks before settling (Fish & Fish, 1996). Settlement and metamorphosis takes place when the larvae has 17-18 setigers.
  • Larvae are substratum specific selecting rocks according to their physical properties or sediment depending on substrate particle size.
  • Larvae of Polydora ciliata have been collected as far as 118km offshore (Murina, 1997) and along the Belgian coast were found in the plankton all year round with a peak in the summer (Daro & Polk 1973).
Reproduction References Fish & Fish, 1996, Daro & Polk, 1973, Murina, 1997, Gudmundsson, 1985, Eckert, 2003, Giangrande, 1997,
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