title for learn about section of tubeworms in A SNAIL'S ODYSSEY

There are several species of large tubeworms on our coast, the largest and/or most conspicuous being found in 2 Families: Sabellidae and Serpulidae,   Other tubeworms exist in large colonies (F. Cirratulidae) or build delicate sand or shell tubes in mud (F. Spionidae).

NOTE  polychaetes are very “Family-oriented” and the first task of any aspiring polychaete researcher is to learn to identify a good number of the 57-or so families that comprise our west-coast polychaete fauna.  Contemporary classification of polychaetes seems less attentive to categorising families into larger taxonomic groups but, rather, to grouping them into functional groups of feeding, habitat type, and so on, and this is the approach used here.  Thus, mainly burrowing forms can be found in the LUGWORM part, mainly tube-dwelling species here in the TUBEWORM part, and mainly free-living forms in the SANDWORM part of the ODYSSEY.  Because this separation is not finely tuned there will some arbitrary decisions made as to which Family goes where and one or two families appear in more than one section of the ODYSSEY (e.g., Spionidae)

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drawing of snail meeting tubeworm in A SNAIL'S ODYSSEY
© 2010 Thomas Carefoot

To learn about west-coast TUBEWORMS: select a topic from the tubeworm menu at the top of the page

OR: play the ANIMATION of the snail meeting the TUBEWORM

OR, if you want to see other animations: follow the snail on its ODYSSEY by CLICKING on any X-marked invertebrate on the map

map used by snail to find its way to the top of the shore in A SNAIL'S ODYSSEY
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Phylum Annelida (lit. “rings” L.) referring to the segmented nature of the body

Class Polychaeta (lit. “many bristles” G.) marine segmented worms.  Grouped below are mainly forms that inhabit parchment, calcareous, or sand/mud tubes that filter-feed or deposit-feed

Family Sabellidae (lit. “sand” L.), including  tube-dwelling polychaetes commonly called “fan worms” or “feather-duster worms”, inhabiting tubes of mucus/sediment.  Of about 300 world species of sabellids, 45 are known from the west coast of North America, including Eudistylia spp. and Schizobranchia insignis

Family Serpulidae (lit. “a little snake” L.), including several tube-dwelling polychaetes inhabiting tubes of primarily calcium carbonate, of which the largest representative on the west coast is Serpula columbiana; also including the spirorbids (lit. “coil” L.), a collection of small species inhabiting coiled calcareous tubes attached to hard substrata, such as Spirorbis spp. and Paradexiospira vitrea

Family Terebellidae (lit. “round or smooth” L.), including an number of tube-dwelling or burrowing forms noted for their long, prehensile tentacles that spread out widely over the sediment while they feed.  A common species is Thelepus crispus

Family Cirratulidae (lit. “a curl of hair” L.), including tube-dwelling polychaetes, some existing in sprawling calcium-encased colonies such as Dodecaceria fewkesi

Family Spionidae (lit. “sea nymph” L.) is a large and commonly seen group of small tube-dwelling or free-burrowing forms (90 species in California alone) that deposit-feed using palps, including Streblospio benedicti and Polydora (ligni) cornuta

Family Oweniidae, including small deposit-feeding forms inhabiting mucous tubes constructed of sand or shell fragments, sometimes forming dense tube mats, such as Owenia collaris

Family Sabellariidae (lit. “sand” L.), including tube-dwelling forms such as Phragmatopoma californica and Sabellaria cementarium that construct often dense, reef-like colonies on rocks along the shore

Family Pectinariidae (lit. "comb"L.), including “ice-cream cone” worms Pectinaria californiensis that live buried in sediment within tapered, sandy tubes that are open at both ends. The worm's head bears a row of flattened bristles, presumably for defense

Family Chaetopteridae, including parchment worms Chaetopterus sp. that live in tubes in sandy/mud habitats

NOTE  formerly Serpula vermicularis.  The species S. vermicularis has existed since its official naming by Linnaeus in the 1767.  Since then it has been used to designate similar-appearing tubeworms the world over, now referred to as the “Serpula-vermicularis species complex”.  Recent studies at Friday Harbor Laboratories, Washington have separated the northern world distribution of the worm into 3 species, of which S. columbiana is now the representative from the west coast of North America.  Serpula vermicularis is now designated as the species from the Norwegian Sea and Europe.  Kupriyanova 1999 Ophelia 50: 21.

NOTE  P. californica is found on the west coast from southern California to Mexico.  While it has been reported to interbreed with the the Atlantic-coast P. caudata, recent genetics studies show that they are, indeed, separate species.  Drake et al. 2007 Mar Biol 150: 345.

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