A shovelhead worm (Magelona mirabilis)

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

Summary

Description

A long, threadlike worm comprising of an elongate and rounded shovel-shaped 'head', and a body divided into two distinct regions. The thorax has nine segments with fine hair-like bristles (chaetae), and the abdomen has many segments carrying rows of small hooks. The bristles of the last segment of the thorax (9th chaetiger) have expanded tips (mucronate). The body is often constricted between the two body regions. The head end bears a pair of long 'tentacle-like' palps (used in feeding), which carry finger-like papillae. Although, the palps are often lost upon collection. The head and thorax are often soft pink, whilst the rear is often greenish grey. The palps carry darker stripy pigment, which can be seen even without a microscope. They have an oval to heart-shaped burrowing organ in between the palps which can be everted to aid digging in sediments. It is the larger of the UK shovelhead worm species.

Recorded distribution in Britain and Ireland

Expected to occur all around the coasts of Britain and Ireland where suitable substrata occur. Recorded patchily from all British and Irish coasts.

Global distribution

Recorded from the Irish Sea, North Sea, Baltic Sea, the Atlantic coasts of Ireland, France and Portugal, and the Mediterranean coast of France.

Habitat

Magelona mirabilis typically burrows in muddy to fine sand at low water and in the shallow sublittoral. It does not produce a tube. Magelona mirabilis may occur in highly unstable sediments, characterized by surf, strong currents and sediment mobility, it may be more indicative of stable compacted fine sand. 

Depth range

Mid shore to 50 m depth

Identifying features

  • Long, rounded 'head' (prostomium)
  • Palps fringed with papillae inserted ventrally at the base of the prostomium and carrying stripy dark pigmentation. However, the palps are rarely present.
  • The first 8 chaetigers have an upper (notopodia) and lower (neuropodia) projection on each side of the body, which are broad. No other lobes are present. They bear only hair-like chaetae.
  • Bristles (chaetae) of chaetiger 9 with expanded tips (mucronate), which can be seen under high magnification.
  • Remaining abdominal chaetigers have rows of hooded hooks, which have two small teeth above a large fang (tridentate).
  • Terminal segment bears two small, anal cirri.

Additional information

The species looks very similar to Magelona johnstoni (Fiege et al., 2000) but can be separated as it lacks the large pocket-like pouches at the start of the abdomen, which are present in Magelona johnstoni. For detailed notes on the identification of European Magelona spp., see Fiege et al. (2000), Mills & Mortimer (2018), Mortimer et al. (2020) and Mortimer et al. (2022).  Magelona papillicornis is not a true synonym. Magelona papillicornis has not changed its name and still exists off the coasts of Brazil. However, Magelona mirabilis includes the North East Atlantic specimens that were once called Magelona papillicornis (M. Kendall, pers. comm.). See Jones (1977) for further taxonomic information.

 

Listed by

- none -

Biology review

Taxonomy

LevelScientific nameCommon name
PhylumAnnelida
ClassPolychaeta
FamilyMagelonidae
GenusMagelona
Authority(Johnston, 1865)
Recent SynonymsMagelona papillicornis F. Müller, 1858 (see below)Maea mirabilis Johnston, 1865

Biology

ParameterData
Typical abundanceSee additional information
Male size range3-10 cm
Male size at maturity
Female size range3-10 cm
Female size at maturity
Growth formVermiform segmented
Growth rateInsufficient information
Body flexibilityHigh (greater than 45 degrees)
MobilityBurrower
Characteristic feeding methodSurface deposit feeder
Diet/food sourceDetritivore
Typically feeds onDetritus, microalgae, small animals, and sediment
SociabilitySolitary
Environmental positionInfaunal
DependencyIndependent.
SupportsNone
Is the species harmful?No

Biology information

Abundance. Occurs at high densities where environmental conditions are suitable. For example, Mackie et al. (2006; cited by Maißner & Darr, 2009) reported that the highest densities of Magelona mirabilis were found at stations where sand content of the substratum was high and mud content was low. Density also declined with increasing water depth (Meißner & Darr, 2009).

Feeding. Magelona mirabilis remain in their burrows during feeding and they project their palps into the water column, around 4 mm above the sediment surface (Mortimer & Mackie, 2014). The palps then scan the surface using the papillae and palp tips (Mortimer & Mackie, 2014). The ‘mouth’ of Magelona mirabilis was observed to be extendable during feeding as it protruded out like a tube as it collected particles (Mortimer & Mackie, 2014). Collected particles were moved down the length of the palp in a conveyor belt-like fashion (Mills & Mortimer, 2019). Jumars et al. (2015) suggested that Magelona mirabilis is a subsurface feeder which is supported by Mortimer & Mackie (2014) as they observed a lack of deposit-feeding from the species. The diet of magelonids consists of crustaceans, sand, detritus, some foraminiferans and other particulates (Mills & Mortimer, 2019). 

Habitat preferences

ParameterData
Physiographic preferencesEnclosed coast or Embayment, Open coast, Strait or Sound
Biological zone preferencesLower eulittoral, Lower infralittoral, Sublittoral fringe, Upper circalittoral, Upper infralittoral
Substratum / habitat preferencesFine clean sand, Muddy sand
Tidal strength preferencesModerately strong 1 to 3 knots (0.5-1.5 m/sec.), Strong 3 to 6 knots (1.5-3 m/sec.)
Wave exposure preferencesExposed, Moderately exposed, Sheltered, Very exposed
Salinity preferencesFull (30-40 psu), Variable (18-40 psu)
Depth rangeMid shore to 50 m depth
Other preferences
Migration PatternNon-migratory or resident

Habitat Information

-

Life history

Adult characteristics

ParameterData
Reproductive typeGonochoristic (dioecious)
Reproductive frequency Annual protracted
Fecundity (number of eggs)No information
Generation time1-2 years
Age at maturityInsufficient information
SeasonSee additional information
Life span2-5 years

Larval characteristics

ParameterData
Larval/propagule type-
Larval/juvenile development Planktotrophic
Duration of larval stageNo information
Larval dispersal potential Greater than 10 km
Larval settlement periodInsufficient information

Life history information

Reproductive data concerning Magelona mirabilis is scarce (Fiege et al., 2000). Magelonids are believed to be broadcast spawners and it has been suggested that they only reproduce once and then mortality occurs after spawning. However, the exact mechanisms through which they spread their gametes from their burrows are unknown (Mortimer & Mackie, 2014). Mortimer & Mackie (2014) observed synchronized behaviour of magelonids outside of their burrows, in which they extended their thoraxes. They suggested that this behaviour involved reproduction, but no release of reproductive products was ever confirmed. Hardege & Bentley (1997) suggested that environmental factors such as temperature are an important factor triggering this behaviour in magelonids as it helps with their synchronization. They also suggested that this movement of the thorax could be involved in gamete release, by either helping to bring the sperm into the burrow for reproduction, like in female Arenicola marina (Hardege & Bentley, 1997), or helping to disperse eggs and the sperm (Mortimer & Mackie, 2014). 

The data that is available suggests that the reproductive period in Magelona mirabilis varies with geographic location and the breeding season of many polychaetes is known to vary with latitude. Wilson (1982) examined Magelona mirabilis larvae in 1939 from clean sand at low water spring tide in Mill Bay, Salcombe. In the laboratory, fertilization was most successful in late June, July and August but none survived longer than 10 days. The eggs of Magelona mirabilis were larger in size than Magelona filiformis, had a closely fitting egg membrane, and were granular and cream in colour (Wilson, 1982). After 3 days, Wilson (1982) observed that the prototrochal tentacle on the left-hand side grew at a slower rate than the right-hand side, but this was common in all fertilizations as several hundred were seen, along with brown granules on each tip and on the pygidium. When the larva was 6 days old, the left tentacle was still shorter than the right, but it had two rows of papillae, each with a sensory cilium (Wilson, 1982). As the larvae only survived a few days after this stage in the laboratory, little is known about the reproductive development, but Wilson (1982) suggested that if the larvae lived longer than the right-hand side and shorter left-hand side tentacles could have grown to be the same length. He also observed that the magelonids usually made burrows in the sand at metamorphosis, firming the walls with mucus and then producing cemented sandy tubes. However, other larvae metamorphosed without burrowing and instead stuck themselves to the bottom (Wilson, 1982). Therefore, it is generally agreed that Magelona mirabilis displays characteristics typical of an r-selected species, i.e., rapid reproduction, short lifespan, and high dispersal potential (Krönke, 1990; Niermann et al., 1990), and is characteristic of shallow, disturbed, non-successional habitats (M.Kendall, pers. comm.). 

Sensitivity reviewHow is sensitivity assessed?

Physical pressures

Use / to open/close text displayed

 IntoleranceRecoverabilitySensitivityEvidence / Confidence
Substratum loss [Show more]

Substratum loss

Benchmark. All of the substratum occupied by the species or biotope under consideration is removed. A single event is assumed for sensitivity assessment. Once the activity or event has stopped (or between regular events) suitable substratum remains or is deposited. Species or community recovery assumes that the substratum within the habitat preferences of the original species or community is present. Further details

Evidence

Magelona mirabilis is an infaunal species which lives in the top few centimetres of fine sand substrata (Fiege et al., 2000). The majority of the population would be removed along with the substratum, e.g. as a result of channel dredging activities, and therefore intolerance is assessed as high. Recoverability is recorded as high (see additional information below).

High High Moderate High
Smothering [Show more]

Smothering

Benchmark. All of the population of a species or an area of a biotope is smothered by sediment to a depth of 5 cm above the substratum for one month. Impermeable materials, such as concrete, oil, or tar, are likely to have a greater effect. Further details.

Evidence

Magelona mirabilis lives infaunally in fine sand and moves by burrowing. It deposit feeds at the surface by extending contractile palps from its burrow. An additional 5 cm layer of sediment would result in a temporary cessation of feeding activity, and therefore growth and reproduction are likely to be compromised. However, Magelona mirabilis would be expected to quickly relocate to its favoured depth, with no mortality, and hence an intolerance of low is recorded. Once the animals have relocated to the surface, feeding activity should return to normal and therefore a recoverability of immediate is recorded.

Low Immediate Not sensitive Low
Increase in suspended sediment [Show more]

Increase in suspended sediment

Benchmark. An arbitrary short-term, acute change in background suspended sediment concentration e.g., a change of 100 mg/l for one month. The resultant light attenuation effects are addressed under turbidity, and the effects of rapid settling out of suspended sediment are addressed under smothering. Further details

Evidence

Magelona mirabilis is unlikely to be perturbed by an increase in suspended sediment as it lives infaunally. It is a deposit feeder, gathering organic particles from the sediment surface with its mobile palps. An increase in suspended sediment may result in greater food availability at the sediment surface, potentially enhancing growth and reproduction of Magelona mirabilis. However, the species would only benefit if there was a significant proportion of organic matter in the suspended sediment and if food was previously limiting.

Tolerant* Not relevant Not sensitive* Very low
Decrease in suspended sediment [Show more]

Decrease in suspended sediment

Benchmark. An arbitrary short-term, acute change in background suspended sediment concentration e.g., a change of 100 mg/l for one month. The resultant light attenuation effects are addressed under turbidity, and the effects of rapid settling out of suspended sediment are addressed under smothering. Further details

Evidence

Magelona mirabilis is a surface deposit feeder and therefore relies on a supply of nutrients at the sediment surface. A decrease in the suspended sediment may result in a decreased rate of deposition on the substratum surface and therefore a reduction in food availability. Magelona mirabilis is a short-lived species and a reduction in the amount of suspended sediment is likely to impair growth and may result in the death of some of the population (M. Kendall, pers. comm.). The benchmark states that this change would occur for one month and therefore an intolerance of intermediate has been recorded. As soon as suspended sediment levels increased, feeding activity would return to normal and hence recovery is recorded as immediate.

Intermediate Immediate Very Low
Desiccation [Show more]

Desiccation

  1. A normally subtidal, demersal or pelagic species including intertidal migratory or under-boulder species is continuously exposed to air and sunshine for one hour.
  2. A normally intertidal species or community is exposed to a change in desiccation equivalent to a change in position of one vertical biological zone on the shore, e.g., from upper eulittoral to the mid eulittoral or from sublittoral fringe to lower eulittoral for a period of one year. Further details.

Evidence

Magelona mirabilis lives infaunally and is therefore likely to be protected from desiccation stress. A proportion of the population lives in the intertidal (Fiege et al., 2000) suggesting the species is tolerant to emersion of its substratum. However, Mortimer & Mackie (2014) reported that once Magelona mirabilis specimens were removed from the sediment and exposed to air they struggled to penetrate the sediment once again. Intolerance is therefore assessed as intermediate. Recoverability is recorded as high (see additional information below).  

Intermediate High Low Very low
Increase in emergence regime [Show more]

Increase in emergence regime

Benchmark. A one hour change in the time covered or not covered by the sea for a period of one year. Further details

Evidence

A proportion of the population of Magelona mirabilis lives in the intertidal zone (Fiege et al., 2000). The species lives infaunally and hence is not likely to suffer from desiccation stress unless displaced. However, Magelona mirabilis can only feed when immersed and therefore will experience reduced feeding opportunities. If it burrows to find immersed sediment, the digging will result in the palps being lost (M. Kendall, pers. comm.). Over the course of a year the resultant energetic cost is likely to cause some mortality. An intolerance of intermediate is therefore recorded. Recoverability is recorded as high (see additional information below).

Intermediate High Low Low
Decrease in emergence regime [Show more]

Decrease in emergence regime

Benchmark. A one hour change in the time covered or not covered by the sea for a period of one year. Further details

Evidence

Magelona mirabilis thrives in the subtidal zone (Fiege et al., 2000) and therefore could potentially benefit from a decreased emergence regime. It is possible that decreased emergence would allow the species to colonize further up the shore.

Tolerant Not relevant Not sensitive High
Increase in water flow rate [Show more]

Increase in water flow rate

A change of two categories in water flow rate (view glossary) for 1 year, for example, from moderately strong (1-3 knots) to very weak (negligible). Further details

Evidence

Magelona mirabilis is adapted to life in areas with strong currents, high wave exposure and unstable sediments (Lackshewitz & Reise, 1998). However, increased water flow rate may remove sediment or change the sediment characteristics in which the species lives, primarily by re-suspending and preventing deposition of finer particles (Hiscock, 1983). Magelona mirabilis typically occurs in sandy sediments (Fiege et al., 2000), a substratum which may be eroded by increases in water flow. Additionally, the consequent lack of deposition of particulate matter at the sediment surface would reduce food availability. The resultant energetic cost over one year would be likely to result in some mortality. An intolerance of intermediate is therefore recorded. Recoverability is recorded as high (see additional information below).

Intermediate High Low Very low
Decrease in water flow rate [Show more]

Decrease in water flow rate

A change of two categories in water flow rate (view glossary) for 1 year, for example, from moderately strong (1-3 knots) to very weak (negligible). Further details

Evidence

Magelona mirabilis is adapted to life in areas with strong currents, high wave exposure and unstable sediments (Lackshewitz & Reise, 1998). Decreased water movement would result in increased deposition of fine suspended sediment (Hiscock, 1983), changing the sediment characteristics of the habitat in which the species lives. Over the course of a year, it is likely that some mortality would occur and an intolerance of intermediate is recorded. Recoverability is assessed as high (see additional information below).

Intermediate High Low Low
Increase in temperature [Show more]

Increase in temperature

  1. A short-term, acute change in temperature; e.g., a 5°C change in the temperature range for three consecutive days. This definition includes ‘short-term’ thermal discharges.
  2. A long-term, chronic change in temperature; e.g. a 2°C change in the temperature range for a year. This definition includes ‘long term’ thermal discharges.

For intertidal species or communities, the range of temperatures includes the air temperature regime for that species or community. Further details

Evidence

No information was found concerning the intolerance of Magelona mirabilis to an increase in temperature.

No information No information No information Not relevant
Decrease in temperature [Show more]

Decrease in temperature

  1. A short-term, acute change in temperature; e.g., a 5°C change in the temperature range for three consecutive days. This definition includes ‘short-term’ thermal discharges.
  2. A long-term, chronic change in temperature; e.g. a 2°C change in the temperature range for a year. This definition includes ‘long term’ thermal discharges.

For intertidal species or communities, the range of temperatures includes the air temperature regime for that species or community. Further details

Evidence

The abundance of Magelona mirabilis experienced a sharp decline following the severe winter of 1995 / 1996 in the Wadden Sea, the Netherlands (Armonies et al., 2001). Between 1992 and 1995 the average abundance in an area 5 km west of Sylt was 2901 individuals per m²and by 1996 / 1997, abundance had fallen to 138 per m² (Armonies et al., 2001). The average water temperature in List Harbour, near Sylt, over the severe winter was 0.5 °C which was 2.7 °C and 3.7 °C below the mean water temperatures of the moderate and mild winters of 1996 / 1997 and 1997 / 1998 respectively (Strasser & Günther, 2001). This change in temperature is comparable to the chronic change in the benchmark and therefore an intolerance of intermediate has been recorded. Armonies et al. (2001) commented that, following the severe winter, recovery in this species was 'slow'. However, 'slow' was not quantified although the study suggests that the species had not yet recovered by the 1996 / 1997 sampling.

Intermediate High Low Moderate
Increase in turbidity [Show more]

Increase in turbidity

  1. A short-term, acute change; e.g., two categories of the water clarity scale (see glossary) for one month, such as from medium to extreme turbidity.
  2. A long-term, chronic change; e.g., one category of the water clarity scale (see glossary) for one year, such as from low to medium turbidity. Further details

Evidence

Magelona mirabilis does not require light and therefore is not directly affected by an increase in turbidity. However, increased turbidity may affect primary production in the water column and therefore reduce the availability of diatom food arriving at the sediment surface. In addition, primary production by the micro-phyto benthos on the sediment surface may be reduced, further decreasing food availability. However, Magelona mirabilis also feeds on detritus although it is not known what proportion of the diet is this represents (M. Kendall, pers. comm.). It is possible that, over the course of the year, growth and fecundity may be reduced and an intolerance of low is recorded. However, as soon as light levels return to normal, primary production will increase and hence recoverability is recorded as very high.

Low Very high Very Low Low
Decrease in turbidity [Show more]

Decrease in turbidity

  1. A short-term, acute change; e.g., two categories of the water clarity scale (see glossary) for one month, such as from medium to extreme turbidity.
  2. A long-term, chronic change; e.g., one category of the water clarity scale (see glossary) for one year, such as from low to medium turbidity. Further details

Evidence

Magelona mirabilis does not require light and therefore would not be directly affected by a decrease in turbidity. However, decreased turbidity may increase primary production in the water column and by the micro-phyto benthos on the sediment surface. This could potentially increase the amount of food available to Magelona mirabilis although this species also feeds on detritus and it is not known what proportion of the diet diatoms represent (M. Kendall, pers. comm.), nor if it is limiting and therefore, tolerant has been recorded.

Tolerant Not relevant Not sensitive High
Increase in wave exposure [Show more]

Increase in wave exposure

A change of two ranks on the wave exposure scale (view glossary) e.g., from Exposed to Extremely exposed for a period of one year. Further details

Evidence

Magelona mirabilis is adapted to live in areas with strong currents, high wave exposure and unstable sediments (Lackshewitz & Reise, 1998). However, a further increase in wave action may affect the species in several ways (Hiscock, 1983). Strong wave action is likely to cause damage or withdrawal of delicate feeding structures resulting in loss of feeding opportunities and compromised growth. Individuals may be damaged or dislodged by scouring from sand and gravel mobilized by increased wave action. The sediment they live in may be eroded and burrowing would result in the loss of the delicate palps (M. Kendall, pers. comm.). However, Mortimer & Mackie (2014) observed that animals of Magelona johnstoni were able to continue feeding without palps, and that palp loss has no effect on magelonids' ability to continue to feed as they can regenerate two fully functioning palps within 30 days. However, it is likely that some mortality would result from the considerations discussed above. Therefore, an intolerance of intermediate is recorded. Recoverability is recorded as high (see additional information below). 

Intermediate High Low Low
Decrease in wave exposure [Show more]

Decrease in wave exposure

A change of two ranks on the wave exposure scale (view glossary) e.g., from Exposed to Extremely exposed for a period of one year. Further details

Evidence

Magelona mirabilis is adapted to life in areas with strong currents, high wave exposure and unstable sediments (Lackshewitz & Reise, 1998). Decreased wave exposure over the course of a year is likely to result in the establishment of a finer sediment habitat. It is expected that some mortality would occur and therefore intolerance is assessed as intermediate. Recoverability is recorded as high (see additional information below).

Intermediate High Low Low
Noise [Show more]

Noise

  1. Underwater noise levels e.g., the regular passing of a 30-metre trawler at 100 metres or a working cutter-suction transfer dredge at 100 metres for one month during important feeding or breeding periods.
  2. Atmospheric noise levels e.g., the regular passing of a Boeing 737 passenger jet 300 metres overhead for one month during important feeding or breeding periods. Further details

Evidence

Jones (1968) reported that Magelona sp. was sensitive to vibrational stimuli both within the sand and the water column, stating that its lateral organs were similar to that of ctenophores and chaetognaths. Mortimer & Mackie (2014) observed that Magelona mirabilis was less responsive to vibrational stimuli than Magelona johnstoni, but therefore still responded to the slightest of knocks. However, it is unlikely to be affected by noise and vibration at the level of the benchmark.

Tolerant Not relevant Not sensitive Low
Visual presence [Show more]

Visual presence

Benchmark. The continuous presence for one month of moving objects not naturally found in the marine environment (e.g., boats, machinery, and humans) within the visual envelope of the species or community under consideration. Further details

Evidence

No information was found concerning the intolerance of Magelona mirabilis to visual disturbance. The species has no eyes (Hayward & Ryland, 1995) and therefore would not be expected to respond to visual cues.

Tolerant Not relevant Not sensitive High
Abrasion & physical disturbance [Show more]

Abrasion & physical disturbance

Benchmark. Force equivalent to a standard scallop dredge landing on or being dragged across the organism. A single event is assumed for assessment. This factor includes mechanical interference, crushing, physical blows against, or rubbing and erosion of the organism or habitat of interest. Where trampling is relevant, the evidence and trampling intensity will be reported in the rationale. Further details.

Evidence

Magelona mirabilis is a soft bodied organism which exposes its palps at the surface while feeding. The species lives infaunally in sandy sediment, usually within a few centimetres of the sediment surface. Physical disturbance, such as dredging or dragging an anchor, would be likely to penetrate the upper few centimetres of the sediment and cause physical damage to Magelona mirabilis. An intolerance of intermediate is therefore recorded. Recoverability is recorded as high (see additional information below).

Intermediate High Low Low
Displacement [Show more]

Displacement

Benchmark. Removal of the organism from the substratum and displacement from its original position onto a suitable substratum. A single event is assumed for assessment. Further details

Evidence

Mortimer & Mackie (2014) and Mills & Mortimer (2019) observed burrowing in European magelonid species including Magelona mirabilis. They rapidly buried themselves following displacement to the sediment surface, but they exhibited difficulty in penetrating the sediment surface if disturbed. However, burrowing will result in damage to the palps (M. Kendall, pers. comm.). Furthermore, displacement to the sediment surface would increase the risk of predation by bottom-feeding fish, to which Magelona mirabilis is particularly vulnerable (Hunt, 1925; Hayward & Ryland, 1995). Some mortality may result and therefore intolerance is assessed as intermediate. Recoverability is recorded as high (see additional information below).

Intermediate High Low Low

Chemical pressures

Use [show more] / [show less] to open/close text displayed

 IntoleranceRecoverabilitySensitivityEvidence / Confidence
Synthetic compound contamination [Show more]

Synthetic compound contamination

Sensitivity is assessed against the available evidence for the effects of contaminants on the species (or closely related species at low confidence) or community of interest. For example:

  • evidence of mass mortality of a population of the species or community of interest (either short or long term) in response to a contaminant will be ranked as high sensitivity;
  • evidence of reduced abundance, or extent of a population of the species or community of interest (either short or long term) in response to a contaminant will be ranked as intermediate sensitivity;
  • evidence of sub-lethal effects or reduced reproductive potential of a population of the species or community of interest will be assessed as low sensitivity.

The evidence used is stated in the rationale. Where the assessment can be based on a known activity then this is stated. The tolerance to contaminants of species of interest will be included in the rationale when available; together with relevant supporting material. Further details.

Evidence

There is no evidence relating directly to the effects of synthetic chemicals on Magelona mirabilis. However, there is evidence from other polychaete species. Collier & Pinn (1998), for example, investigated the effect on the benthos of invermectin, a feed additive treatment for infestations of sea-lice on farmed salmonids. The polychaete Hediste diversicolor experienced 100% mortality within 14 days when exposed to 8 mg / m² of invermectin in a microcosm.
Polychaetes are, however, highly diverse and have different tolerances in different species (M. Kendall, pers. comm.). It is therefore not advisable to make assumptions about one particular polychaete species based on evidence relating to another.

 

No information No information No information Not relevant
Heavy metal contamination [Show more]

Heavy metal contamination

Evidence

Little information was found concerning the intolerance of Magelona sp. to heavy metal contamination. However, Boilly & Richard (1978) stated that the presence of Magelona mirabilis is indicative of sediments which have been contaminated with iron. Studies on a dredge spoil disposal site in the harbours of Boulogne and Dunkerque in France (Bourgain et al., 1988) found higher densities of Magleona mirabilis three months after the dumping of dredge spoil than after five months, that is, when the metal contamination of the sediments was higher. No information regarding the effect of other metals on this species was found.

No information Not relevant No information Not relevant
Hydrocarbon contamination [Show more]

Hydrocarbon contamination

Evidence

Suchanek (1993) reviewed the effects of oil spills on marine invertebrates and concluded that, in general, on soft sediment habitats, infaunal polychaetes, bivalves and amphipods were particularly affected. However, no information was found concerning the intolerance of Magelona mirabilis to hydrocarbon contamination.
Evidence exists for other polychaete species. For example, Levell (1976) found that single spills of crude oil and oil / dispersant (BP 11 00X) mixtures caused a 25 - 50 % reduction in the abundance of Arenicola marina in addition to a reduction in feeding activity. Up to four repeated spillages (over a ten month period) resulted in complete eradication of the affected population either due to death or migration out of the sediment. It was also noted that recolonization was reduced although not completely prevented. In contrast, observations on Aphelochaeta marioni following the Amoco Cadiz oil spill in March, 1978 saw an increase in the abundance of this species after the spill (Dauvin, 1982, 2000).

 

Polychaetes are, however, highly diverse and have different tolerances in different species (M. Kendall, pers. comm.). It is therefore not advisable to make assumptions about one particular polychaete species based on evidence relating to another.

No information No information No information Not relevant
Radionuclide contamination [Show more]

Radionuclide contamination

Evidence

No information was found concerning the intolerance of Magelona mirabilis to radionuclide contamination.

No information No information No information Not relevant
Changes in nutrient levels [Show more]

Changes in nutrient levels

Evidence

As a surface deposit feeder, Magelona mirabilis relies on a supply of organic matter at the sediment surface. Increased nutrient levels in the water column would be expected to result in increased deposition of organic matter at the sediment surface, and therefore moderate nutrient enrichment may be beneficial to Magelona mirabilis. Indeed, Kröncke (1990) postulated that the increase in certain species, including Magelona sp., on the Dogger Bank between 1951 and 1987 may be due to eutrophication. However, Niermann (1996) noted that Magelona sp. decreased in abundance following a nutrient enrichment event in the North Sea, probably because the species were adapted to living in sediments with low or moderate amounts of organic carbon. Intolerance is therefore assessed as intermediate. Recovery is recorded as high (see additional information below).

Intermediate High Low Low
Increase in salinity [Show more]

Increase in salinity

  1. A short-term, acute change; e.g., a change of two categories from the MNCR salinity scale for one week (view glossary) such as from full to reduced.
  2. A long-term, chronic change; e.g., a change of one category from the MNCR salinity scale for one year (view glossary) such as from reduced to low. Further details.

Evidence

Magelona mirabilis occurs on the open coast where sea water is at full salinity (Fiege et al., 2000) and is therefore probably relatively tolerant of increases in salinity. No information was found concerning the intolerance of the species to hypersaline conditions.

Tolerant Not relevant Not sensitive High
Decrease in salinity [Show more]

Decrease in salinity

  1. A short-term, acute change; e.g., a change of two categories from the MNCR salinity scale for one week (view glossary) such as from full to reduced.
  2. A long-term, chronic change; e.g., a change of one category from the MNCR salinity scale for one year (view glossary) such as from reduced to low. Further details.

Evidence

Magelona mirabilis occurs in the Baltic Sea (Fiege et al., 2000), where salinity is typically lower than in the open ocean. It is likely that some populations of Magelona mirabilis are adapted to reduced salinity habitats however no information on the effects of an overall decrease in salinity were found.

No information No information No information Not relevant
Changes in oxygenation [Show more]

Changes in oxygenation

Benchmark.  Exposure to a dissolved oxygen concentration of 2 mg/l for one week. Further details.

Evidence

Niermann et al. (1990) reported the changes in a fine sand community from the German Bight in an area with regular seasonal hypoxia. In 1983, oxygen tension fell to exceptionally low levels; < 3 mg O2/dm3 in large areas and < 1 mg O2/dm3 in some places. Species richness was reduced by 30-50% following this event and overall biomass was reduced. Niermann et al. (1990) reported that Magelona sp. remained abundant during the period of hypoxia, and, in fact, decreased slightly in abundance on resumption of normoxia. The benchmark level of hypoxia is 2 mg O2/l for one week. The evidence suggests that Magelona mirabilis would survive this and so is assessed as not sensitive.

Tolerant Not relevant Not sensitive High

Biological pressures

Use [show more] / [show less] to open/close text displayed

 IntoleranceRecoverabilitySensitivityEvidence / Confidence
Introduction of microbial pathogens/parasites [Show more]

Introduction of microbial pathogens/parasites

Benchmark. Sensitivity can only be assessed relative to a known, named disease, likely to cause partial loss of a species population or community. Further details.

Evidence

No information was found concerning the infection of Magelona mirabilis by microbial pathogens.

No information No information No information Not relevant
Introduction of non-native species [Show more]

Introduction of non-native species

Sensitivity assessed against the likely effect of the introduction of alien or non-native species in Britain or Ireland. Further details.

Evidence

There is no evidence to suggest that Magelona mirabilis is susceptible to displacement by non-native species.

No information No information No information Not relevant
Extraction of this species [Show more]

Extraction of this species

Benchmark. Extraction removes 50% of the species or community from the area under consideration. Sensitivity will be assessed as 'intermediate'. The habitat remains intact or recovers rapidly. Any effects of the extraction process on the habitat itself are addressed under other factors, e.g. displacement, abrasion and physical disturbance, and substratum loss. Further details.

Evidence

There is no evidence that Magelona mirabilis is extracted deliberately.

Not relevant Not relevant Not relevant Not relevant
Extraction of other species [Show more]

Extraction of other species

Benchmark. A species that is a required host or prey for the species under consideration (and assuming that no alternative host exists) or a keystone species in a biotope is removed. Any effects of the extraction process on the habitat itself are addressed under other factors, e.g. displacement, abrasion and physical disturbance, and substratum loss. Further details.

Evidence

Magelona mirabilis occurs on the shore alongside the lugworm Arenicola marina and could potentially be affected by bait digging activities given the fragile nature of their bodies (Mortimer, pers. comm.). This species is also potentially at risk from fishing activities on sandy substrata, e.g., beam trawling for flatfish, and extraction of sand by the aggregate industry (Eno, 1991).

No information No information No information Not relevant

Additional information

It is generally agreed that Magelona mirabilis displays characteristics typical of an r-selected species, i.e. rapid reproduction, short life span and high dispersal potential (Kröncke, 1990; Niermann et al., 1990). The larval dispersal phase would potentially allow the species to colonize remote habitats. It is expected that populations of Magelona mirabilis could recover within 2 or 3 years and certainly within 5 years. Recoverability is, therefore, assessed as high.

Importance review

Policy/legislation

- no data -

Status

Non-native

ParameterData
NativeNative
Origin-
Date Arrived-

Importance information

It is possible that Magelona mirabilis contributes to the energy budget of flatfish nursery grounds along with spionids and tellinids (M. Kendall, pers. comm.).

Bibliography

  1. Armonies, W., Herre, E. & Sturm, M., 2001. Effects of the severe winter 1995 / 1996 on the benthic macrofauna of the Wadden Sea and the coastal North Sea near the island of Sylt. Helgoland Marine Research, 55, 170-175.

  2. Bat, L. & Raffaelli, D., 1998. Sediment toxicity testing: a bioassay approach using the amphipod Corophium volutator and the polychaete Arenicola marina. Journal of Experimental Marine Biology and Ecology, 226 (2), 217-239. DOI https://doi.org/10.1016/s0022-0981(97)00249-9

  3. Boilly, B. & Richard, A., 1978. Accumulation de fer chez une annelide polychete: Magelona papillicornis F. Müller. Compte Rendu Hebdomadaire Acadamie Sciences de Paris, 286, 1005-1008.

  4. Bosselmann, A., 1989. Larval plankton and recruitment of macrofauna in a subtidal area in the German Bight. In Reproduction, Genetics and Distributions of Marine Organisms (ed. J.S. Ryland & P.A. Tyler), pp. 43-54.

  5. Bourgain, J-L., Dewez, S., Dewarumez, J-M., Richard, A. & Beck, C., 1988. Les rejets de vases portuaires: impacts sedimentologiques et biologiques sur le peuplement des sables a Ophelia borealis de la manche orientale et de la mer du nord. Journal de Recherche Océanographique, 13, 25-27.

  6. Bryan, G.W. & Gibbs, P.E., 1983. Heavy metals from the Fal estuary, Cornwall: a study of long-term contamination by mining waste and its effects on estuarine organisms. Plymouth: Marine Biological Association of the United Kingdom. [Occasional Publication, no. 2.]

  7. Bryan, G.W., 1984. Pollution due to heavy metals and their compounds. In Marine Ecology: A Comprehensive, Integrated Treatise on Life in the Oceans and Coastal Waters, vol. 5. Ocean Management, part 3, (ed. O. Kinne), pp.1289-1431. New York: John Wiley & Sons.

  8. Dauvin, J.C., 1982. Impact of Amoco Cadiz oil spill on the muddy fine sand Abra alba - Melinna palmata community from the Bay of Morlaix. Estuarine and Coastal Shelf Science, 14, 517-531.

  9. Dauvin, J.C., 2000. The muddy fine sand Abra alba - Melinna palmata community of the Bay of Morlaix twenty years after the Amoco Cadiz oil spill. Marine Pollution Bulletin, 40, 528-536.

  10. Eno, N.C., 1991. Marine Conservation Handbook. English Nature, Peterborough.

  11. Fauchald, J. & Jumars, P.A., 1979. The diet of worms: a study of polychaete feeding guilds. Oceanography and Marine Biology: an Annual Review, 17, 193-284.

  12. Fernandez, T.V. & Jones, N.V., 1987. Some studies on the effect of zinc on Nereis diversicolor (Polychaeta: Annelida). Tropical Ecology, 28, 9-21.

  13. Fiege, D., Licher, F. & Mackie, A.S.Y., 2000. A partial review of the European Magelonidae (Annelida : Polychaeta) Magelona mirabilis redefined and M. johnstoni sp. nov. distinguished. Journal of the Marine Biological Association of the United Kingdom, 80, 215-234.

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

  15. Gibbs, P.E., Langston, W.J., Burt, G.R. & Pascoe, P.L., 1983. Tharyx marioni (Polychaeta) : a remarkable accumulator of arsenic. Journal of the Marine Biological Association of the United Kingdom, 63, 313-325.

  16. Hardege, J. and M. Bentley (1997). "Spawning synchrony in Arenicola marina: Evidence for sex pheromonal control." Proceedings of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences 264. https://doi.org/10.1098/rspb.1997.0144

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

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

  19. Hiscock, K., 1983. Water movement. In Sublittoral ecology. The ecology of shallow sublittoral benthos (ed. R. Earll & D.G. Erwin), pp. 58-96. Oxford: Clarendon Press.

  20. 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.]

  21. Hunt, J.D., 1925. The food of the bottom fauna of the Plymouth fishing grounds. Journal of the Marine Biological Association of the United Kingdom, 13, 560-599.

  22. JNCC (Joint Nature Conservation Committee), 1999. Marine Environment Resource Mapping And Information Database (MERMAID): Marine Nature Conservation Review Survey Database. [on-line] http://www.jncc.gov.uk/mermaid

  23. Jones, M.L., 1968. On the morphology, feeding and behaviour of Magelona sp. Biological Bulletin of the Marine Laboratory, Woods Hole, 134, 272-297.

  24. Jones, M.L., 1977. A redescription of Magelona papillicornis F. Müller.

  25. Jumars, P. A., et al. (2015). "Diet of Worms Emended: An Update of Polychaete Feeding Guilds." Annual Review of Marine Science 7(1): 497-520. DOI: https://doi.org/10.1146/annurev-marine-010814-020007

  26. Kröncke, I., 1990. Macrofauna standing stock of the Dogger Bank. A comparison: II. 1951 - 1952 versus 1985 - 1987. Are changes in the community of the northeastern part of the Dogger Bank due to environmental changes? Netherlands Journal of Sea Research, 25, 189-198.

  27. Kuhl, H., 1972. Hydrography and biology of the Elbe Estuary. Oceanography and Marine Biology: an Annual Review, 10, 225-309.

  28. Lackschewitz, D. & Reise, K., 1998. Macrofauna on flood delta shoals in the Wadden Sea with an underground association between the lugworm Arenicola marina and the amphipod Urothoe poseidonis. Helgolander Meeresuntersuchungen, 52, 147-158.

  29. Levell, D., 1976. The effect of Kuwait Crude Oil and the Dispersant BP 1100X on the lugworm, Arenicola marina L. In Proceedings of an Institute of Petroleum / Field Studies Council meeting, Aviemore, Scotland, 21-23 April 1975. Marine Ecology and Oil Pollution (ed. J.M. Baker), pp. 131-185. Barking, England: Applied Science Publishers Ltd.

  30. Mackie, A.S.Y., James, J.W.C., Rees, E.I.S., Darbyshire, T., Philpott, S.L., Mortimer, K., Jenkins, G.O. & Morando, A., 2006. BIOMÔR 4. The Outer Bristol Channel Marine Habitat Study. Studies in marine biodiversity and systematics from the National Museum of Wales, Cardiff. BIOMÔR Reports 4: 1–249 and A1–A227, + DVD-ROM (2007).

  31. Meißner, K. & Darr, A., 2009. Distribution of Magelona species (Polychaeta: Magelonidae) in the German Bight (North Sea): a modelling approach. Zoosymposia, 2, 567–586. DOI https://doi.org/10.11646/zoosymposia.2.1.39

  32. Mills, K. & Mortimer, K., 2018. Redescription of Magelona minuta Eliason, 1962 (Annelida), with discussions on the validity of Magelona filiformis minuta. Zootaxa4527 (4), 541–559. DOI https://doi.org/10.11646/zootaxa.4527.4.5

  33. Mills, K. & Mortimer, K., 2019. Observations on the tubicolous annelid Magelona alleni (Magelonidae), with discussions on the relationship between morphology and behaviour of European magelonids. Journal of the Marine Biological Association of the United Kingdom, 99 (4), 715-727. DOI https://doi.org/10.1017/S0025315418000784

  34. Mortimer, K. & Mackie, A.S.Y., 2014. Morphology, feeding and behaviour of British Magelona (Annelida: Magelonidae), with discussions on the form and function of abdominal lateral pouches. Memoirs of Museum Victoria, 71, 177–201. DOI http://doi.org/10.24199/j.mmv.2014.71.15

  35. Mortimer, K., Kongsrud, J.A. & Willassen, E., 2022. Integrative taxonomy of West African Magelona (Annelida: Magelonidae): species with thoracic pigmentation. Zoological Journal of the Linnean Society, 194 (4), 1134–1176. DOI https://doi.org/10.1093/zoolinnean/zlab070

  36. Mortimer, K., Mills, K., Jordana, E., Pinedo, S. & Gil, J., 2020. A further review of European Magelonidae (Annelida), including redescriptions of Magelona equilamellae and Magelona filiformis. Zootaxa, 4767 (1), 89–114. DOI https://doi.org/10.11646/ZOOTAXA.4767.1.4

  37. Niermann, U., 1996. Fluctuation and mass occurrence of Phoronis muelleri (Phoronidea) in the south-eastern North Sea during 1983-1988. Senckenbergiana Maritima, 28, 65-79.

  38. Niermann, U., Bauerfeind, E., Hickel, W. & Westernhagen, H.V., 1990. The recovery of benthos following the impact of low oxygen content in the German Bight. Netherlands Journal of Sea Research, 25 (1), 215-226. DOI https://doi.org/10.1016/0077-7579(90)90023-A

  39. Picton, B.E. & Costello, M.J., 1998. BioMar biotope viewer: a guide to marine habitats, fauna and flora of Britain and Ireland. [CD-ROM] Environmental Sciences Unit, Trinity College, Dublin.

  40. Probert, P.K., 1981. Changes in the benthic community of china clay waste deposits is Mevagissey Bay following a reduction of discharges. Journal of the Marine Biological Association of the United Kingdom, 61, 789-804. Doi https://doi.org/10.1017/S0025315400048219

  41. Rasmussen, A.D., Banta, G.T. & Anderson, O., 1998. Effects of bioturbation by the lugworm Arenicola marina on cadmium uptake and distribution in sandy sediments. Marine Ecology Progress Series, 164, 179-188.

  42. Soemodinoto, A., Oey, B.L. & Ibkar-Kramadibrata, H., 1995. Effect of salinity decline on macrozoobenthos community of Cibeurum River estuary, Java, Indonesia. Indian Journal of Marine Sciences, 24, 62-67.

  43. Strasser, M. & Günther, C-P., 2001. Larval supply of predator and prey: temporal mismatch between crabs and bivalves after a severe winter in the Wadden Sea. Journal of Sea Reasearch, 46, 57-67.

  44. Suchanek, T.H., 1993. Oil impacts on marine invertebrate populations and communities. American Zoologist, 33, 510-523. DOI https://doi.org/10.1093/icb/33.6.510

  45. Wilson, D.P., 1982. The larval development of three species of Magelona (Polychaeta) from localities near Plymouth. Journal of the Marine Biological Association of the United Kingdom, 62 (2), 385-401. DOI https://doi.org/10.1017/S0025315400057350

Datasets

  1. Environmental Records Information Centre North East, 2018. ERIC NE Combined dataset to 2017. Occurrence dataset: http://www.ericnortheast.org.ukl accessed via NBNAtlas.org on 2018-09-38

  2. NBN (National Biodiversity Network) Atlas. Available from: https://www.nbnatlas.org.

  3. OBIS (Ocean Biodiversity Information System),  2024. Global map of species distribution using gridded data. Available from: Ocean Biogeographic Information System. www.iobis.org. Accessed: 2024-07-22

  4. South East Wales Biodiversity Records Centre, 2018. SEWBReC Worms (South East Wales). Occurrence dataset: https://doi.org/10.15468/5vh0w8 accessed via GBIF.org on 2018-10-02.

Citation

This review can be cited as:

Rayment, W.J. & Burdett, E.G. 2023. Magelona mirabilis A shovelhead worm. In Tyler-Walters H. Marine Life Information Network: Biology and Sensitivity Key Information Reviews, [on-line]. Plymouth: Marine Biological Association of the United Kingdom. [cited 22-07-2024]. Available from: https://www.marlin.ac.uk/species/detail/1630

 Download PDF version


Last Updated: 06/10/2023