BIOTIC Species Information for Spio filicornis
Researched byLizzie Tyler Data supplied byUniversity of Sheffield
Refereed byThis information is not refereed.
Scientific nameSpio filicornis Common nameBristleworm
MCS CodeP790 Recent SynonymsNone

PhylumAnnelida Subphylum
Superclass ClassPolychaeta
Subclass OrderSpionida
Suborder FamilySpionidae
GenusSpio Speciesfilicornis

Additional Information
Taxonomy References Howson & Picton, 1997, Hayward & Ryland, 1995b, Fauchald, 1977,
General Biology
Growth formVermiform segmented
Feeding methodSurface deposit feeder
Sub-surface deposit feeder
Environmental positionInfaunal
Typical food typesDetritus HabitTubiculous
BioturbatorNot researched FlexibilityHigh (>45 degrees)
FragilityFragile SizeSmall-medium(3-10cm)
HeightNot relevant Growth RateData deficient
Adult dispersal potential100-1000m DependencyIndependent
General Biology Additional InformationNone entered
Biology References Hayward & Ryland, 1990,
Distribution and Habitat
Distribution in Britain & IrelandSpio filicornis is found on most British coasts.
Global distributionSpio filicornis is found in the Arctic, Baltic, north-east Atlantic, Mediterranean and north Pacific.
Biogeographic rangeNot researched Depth range
MigratoryNon-migratory / Resident   
Distribution Additional InformationNone entered

Substratum preferencesCoarse clean sand
Fine clean sand
Muddy sand
Physiographic preferencesOpen coast
Strait / sound
Enclosed coast / Embayment
Biological zoneLower Eulittoral
Sublittoral Fringe
Upper Infralittoral
Lower Infralittoral
Wave exposureSheltered
Very Sheltered
Extremely Sheltered
Ultra Sheltered
Tidal stream strength/Water flowWeak (<1 kn)
Very Weak (negligible)
SalinityFull (30-40 psu)
Variable (18-40 psu)
Habitat Preferences Additional InformationNone entered
Distribution References Picton & Costello, 1998, JNCC, 1999, Hayward & Ryland, 1995b,
Reproduction/Life History
Reproductive typeGonochoristic
Developmental mechanismPlanktotrophic
Reproductive SeasonJanuary to September Reproductive LocationAdult burrow
Reproductive frequencyAnnual protracted Regeneration potential No
Life span1 year Age at reproductive maturity<1 year
Generation time<1 year Fecundity400
Egg/propagule size85 µm diameter Fertilization typeInsufficient information
Larval/Juvenile dispersal potential>10km Larval settlement periodInsufficient information
Duration of larval stage2-10 days   
Reproduction Preferences Additional InformationReproduction
Srikrishnadhas & Ramamoorthi (1981) investigated the life history of Spio filicornis in the laboratory. Their findings are summarised below:
  • The spindle shaped egg mass was laid inside the worm's tube, stuck to the side of the tube with mucus produced by the female.
  • Within 12 hours, the eggs metamorphosed into trochophores (larvae) which were retained inside the egg mass.
  • After 36 hours three segments were faintly marked.
  • After thee days the larvae broke free of the egg mass and became pelagic.
  • Once the juvenile worm had 18-22 chaetigers (segments) it settled, metamorphosed, and burrowed into the sand where it built a tube of sand and detritus bound together with mucus.
  • Worms were sexually mature 2 months after metamorphosis.
Reproduction References Srikrishnadhas & Ramamoorthi, 1981, Diaz-Castaneda et al., 1989, Eckert, 2003,
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