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Overview

Brief Summary

The bristle worm Polydora ciliata is a small tube worm. It makes short U-shaped tubes from mud. This worm can burrow itself into stones, chalk and limestone, muddy bottoms and even shells. Due to the massive amount of worms living on stones at the foot of dikes around the low-tide waterline, it can be very slippery from the layer of muddy tubes. If the worm is underwater, it will stick out its two thin tentacles to catch food. There are various species of these bristle worms which are practically identical.
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Comprehensive Description

Description

 A sedentary, burrowing polychaete worm up to 3 cm long and 0.7-1 cm wide. The body has up to 180 segments but is not divided into distinct regions. Polydora ciliata has two very long, slender ciliated palps which protrude, waving vigorously and usually roll up spirally when the animal is disturbed. The tip of the posterior region is saucer shaped. Polydora ciliata is yellowish-brown in colour.There 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).
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Source: Marine Life Information Network

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Distribution

Distribution: Australia, Indo-China, india, Red Sea, Atlantic Ocean, Mediterranean Sea and Falkland Islands.(Fauvel,1953).
  • Day, J.H. (1967). Polychaeta of Southern Africa. Part 2. Sedentaria. British Museum (Natural History), London. Pp 459-842.
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Source: World Register of Marine Species

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Bay of Fundy to Cape Hatteras
  • North-West Atlantic Ocean species (NWARMS)
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Source: World Register of Marine Species

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Ecology

Habitat

Depth range based on 700 specimens in 1 taxon.
Water temperature and chemistry ranges based on 36 samples.

Environmental ranges
  Depth range (m): 0 - 300
  Temperature range (°C): -0.064 - 25.874
  Nitrate (umol/L): 0.468 - 32.444
  Salinity (PPS): 33.544 - 36.038
  Oxygen (ml/l): 4.738 - 6.321
  Phosphate (umol/l): 0.130 - 2.303
  Silicate (umol/l): 1.653 - 84.860

Graphical representation

Depth range (m): 0 - 300

Temperature range (°C): -0.064 - 25.874

Nitrate (umol/L): 0.468 - 32.444

Salinity (PPS): 33.544 - 36.038

Oxygen (ml/l): 4.738 - 6.321

Phosphate (umol/l): 0.130 - 2.303

Silicate (umol/l): 1.653 - 84.860
 
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 Polydora ciliata usually burrows into substrata containing calcium carbonate such as limestone and chalk and into clay as well as the shells of oysters, mussels and periwinkles and crusts of calcareous algae ('lithothamnia'). The species is also found in muddy sediments, wood and laminarian holdfasts.
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Source: Marine Life Information Network

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