MarLIN

information on the biology of species and the ecology of habitats found around the coasts and seas of the British Isles

A fanworm (Ficopomatus enigmaticus)

Distribution data supplied by the Ocean Biogeographic Information System (OBIS). To interrogate UK data visit the NBN Atlas.

Summary

Description

Ficopomatus enigmaticus is a fan-worm that forms thin, white, calcareous tubes that turn yellowish-brown with age and are up to 8 cm in length and 0.1-0.2 cm in diameter. Tubes are marked by fine, transverse rings that spread outwards, reflecting previous growth. Thousands of individuals grow together at an individul rate of up to 2 cm per month to form huge reefs up to 50 cm in height and 4 m across, varying in shape from circular to elongate depending on water flow. The worm's body consists of a head, a seven segmented thorax, a 50-120 segmented abdomen and a tail segment. It grows to up to 2.5 cm in length and is greenish or reddish-orange in colour. The head has paired lobes, each bearing green, darkly banded, feather-like feeding tentacles up to 0.3 cm long and arranged in a semi-circle. One or more of the tentacles are modified into a yellowish-brown, fig-shaped operculum with dark spines. The base of the head is surrounded by a tall, faintly ribbed collar. The segments of the thorax, except for the first, are marked by a dorsal faecal groove and bear bundles of chaetae in two rows. The segments of the abdomen, except for the first to third, bear bundles of two to five chaetae also in two rows. The pygidium bears two small lateral lobes.

Recorded distribution in Britain and Ireland

Found at several locations around the British Isles, including north-east, south-west and north-west England, south-west Wales and off the coasts of County Galway, Ireland.

Global distribution

Ficopomatus enigmaticus is a southern species present in the mediterranean, south Africa, Argentina, New Zealand and Australia from where it may have originated.

Habitat

Ficopomatus enigmaticus inhabits warm shallow sublittoral waters as well as brackish estuaries, docks and lagoons. This species forms reefs on different types of hard substrate including rocks and solid surfaces such as hulls of ships and pipes.

Depth range

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Identifying features

  • Greenish or reddish-orange bodied tube-building fan worm.
  • Body up to 2.5 cm in length and divided into 7 thoracic segments and up to 50-120 abdominal segments
  • Most segments bear bundles of chaetae.
  • Head with paired lobes, each bearing green, darkly banded feather-like tentacles.
  • Operculum yellowish-brown, fig-shaped with dark, inwardly curved, chitinous spines.

Additional information

Ficopomatus enigmaticus is a suspension-feeder. It has a planktonic larvae and reproduces by external fertilization. This species lacks true gonads and, although generally gonochoristic, hermaphroditism has been recorded in some populations.

Listed by

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Further information sources

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Bibliography

  1. Campbell, A.C., 1982. The Hamlyn guide to the flora and fauna of the Mediterranean Sea. London: Hamlyn.

  2. Costello, M.J., Bouchet, P., Boxshall, G., Emblow, C. & Vanden Berghe, E., 2004. European Register of Marine Species [On-line]. http://www.marbef.org/data/erms.php,

  3. Crothers, J.H. (ed.), 1966. Dale Fort Marine Fauna. London: Field Studies Council.

  4. Dixon, D.R., 1980. The energetics of tube production by Mercierella enigmatica (Polychaeta: Serpulidae). Journal of the Marine Biological Association of the United Kingdom, 60(3), 655-659, 1980.

  5. Fish, J.D. & Fish, S., 1996. A student's guide to the seashore. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

  6. Gee, J.M., 1963. On the taxonomy and distribution in south Wales of Filograna, Hydroides and Mercierella (Polychaeta, Serpulidae). Annals and Magazine of Natural History. Series 13, 6, 705-715,

  7. Hayward, P., Nelson-Smith, T. & Shields, C. 1996. Collins pocket guide. Sea shore of Britain and northern Europe. London: HarperCollins.

  8. Hayward, P.J. & Ryland, J.S. (ed.) 1995b. Handbook of the marine fauna of North-West Europe. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

  9. Howson, C.M. & Picton, B.E., 1997. The species directory of the marine fauna and flora of the British Isles and surrounding seas. Belfast: Ulster Museum. [Ulster Museum publication, no. 276.]

  10. MBA (Marine Biological Association), 1957. Plymouth Marine Fauna. Plymouth: Marine Biological Association of the United Kingdom.

  11. National Biodiversity Network (NBN) Atlas website. Available from: http://www.nbnatlas.org.  Accessed 01 April 2017

  12. Obenat, S., Spivak, E., & Orensanz, J.M., 2006. Reproductive biology of the invasive reef-forming serpulid, Ficopomatus enigmaticus, in the Mar Chiquita coastal lagoon, Argentina. Invertebrate Reproduction and Development, 49(4), 263-271,

  13. Read, G.B. & Gordon, D.P. 1991. Adventive occurrence of the fouling serpulid Ficopomatus enigmaticus (Polychaeta) in New Zealand. New Zealand Journal of Marine and Freshwater Research, 25(3), 269-273.

  14. Rouse, G.W. & Pleijel, F., 2001. Polychaetes. New York: Oxford University Press.

Citation

This review can be cited as:

Richards, S. 2008. Ficopomatus enigmaticus A fanworm. In Tyler-Walters H. and Hiscock K. (eds) Marine Life Information Network: Biology and Sensitivity Key Information Reviews, [on-line]. Plymouth: Marine Biological Association of the United Kingdom. Available from: http://www.marlin.ac.uk/species/detail/19

Last Updated: 03/07/2008