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Overview

Brief Summary

Biology

The sexes are separate and breeding occurs in spring and summer. The larvae have a long planktonic life, lasting about two months, and have been found in the period between April and August.

This polychacte lives in its straight tube that protrudes several centimetres from the sediment. The long tentacles are extended from the top for collecting particles. During collecting they are supported by fringe-like extensions of the tube. In case of danger L. conchilega quickly retracts in the tube. When damaged or covered by sediment, the animal rebuilds or extends its tube. This enables L. conchilega to survive in unstable deposits or areas with strong sedimentation. L. conchilega is a selective deposit feeder, ingesting foraminiferans, ciliates, copepods, algae and faeces of echinoderms and molluscs. Laboratory experiments revealed that filter feeding also plays a very important role in its nutrition.

High population densities of L. conchilega are attributed to the combination of periodically high concentrations of suspended matter and the ability to utilize different food sources.

L. conchilega is sensitive to low temperatures and therefore shows low densities in the area of the Wadden Sea after cold winters.

  • Holtmann, S.E.; Groenewold, A.; Schrader, K.H.M.; Asjes, J.; Craeymeersch, J.A.; Duineveld, G.C.A.; van Bostelen, A.J.; van der Meer, J. (1996). Atlas of the zoobenthos of the Dutch continental shelf. Ministry of Transport, Public Works and Water Management: Rijswijk, The Netherlands. ISBN 90-369-4301-9. 243 pp.
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Ecology

The importance of L. conchilega for juvenile flatfishes was described in Vanaverbeke et al (2009).
  • Vanaverbeke J., U. Braeckman, S. Claus, W. Courtens, N. De Hauwere, S. Degraer, K. Deneudt, A. Goffin, J. Mees, B. Merckx, P. Provoost, M. Rabaut, K. Soetaert E. Stienen and M. Vincx (2009). Analysis of long-term data from the Belgian Continental Shelf in the framework of science-based management of the coastal North Sea. Workshop Report WestBanks, Oostende 29/10-31/10/2008.
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Ecology

Recently, scientific evidence showed that L. conchilega qualifies as reef builder under the definition of the Habitats Directive.
  • Rabaut, M., Vincx, M., Degraer, S., 2009. Do Lanice conchilega (sandmason) aggregations classify as reefs? Quantifying habitat modifying effects. Helgol. Mar. Res. 63, 37-46.
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Ecology

In intertidal areas, the tube patches are known to have consequences for the distribution and abundance of infaunal species by influencing the habitat structure, see Callaway ( 2006), Carey (1987), Feral (1989), Zuhlke (2001), Zuhlke et al. (1998).
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Ecology

The influence on faunal abundance, species richness and species composition has been proved based on a long-term dataset, see Rabaut et al (2007), Van Hoey et al (2008).
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Ecology

For more information on hydrodynamic influences of L. lanice, see Dittmann (1999), Eckman (1983), Heuers et al (1983).
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Sand masons live in tubes made from sand and shell grit, with a frayed opening. It sticks its head containing long white tentacles out of the tube to catch food particles in the water. Sometimes the tubes are so close together that they form reefs. They catch sand whereby sandy islands develop. These areas on the bottom of the North Sea are very desirable as hideouts for small marine animals. Other scavengers profit from the multitude of food that stays behind between the tubes.
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Comprehensive Description

Additional information

The impact of bottom fisheries on the Lanice-reefs has been quantified in Rabaut et al. (2008).
  • Rabaut, M., Braeckman, U., Hendrickx, F., Vincx, M., Degraer, S., 2008. Experimental beam-trawling in Lanice conchilega reefs: Impact on the associated fauna. Fisheries Research 90, 209-216.
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Additional information

The L. conchilega reefs can be visualised using advanced remote sensing techniques, see Degraer et al (2008).
  • Degraer, S., Moerkerke, G., Rabaut, M., Van Hoey, G., Du Four, I., Vincx, M., Henriet, J.P., Van Lancker, V., 2008. Very-high resolution side-scan sonar mapping of biogenic reefs of the tube-worm Lanice conchilega. Remote Sensing of Environment 112, 3323-3328.
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Description

 Lanice conchilega is a polychaete worm up to 30 cm in length and yellow, pink and brownish in colour. Its body is divided into between 150 and 300 segments, with 17 segments (chaetigers) in the front region. Lanice conchilega has 3 pairs of bushy gills that are blood red in colour. It makes a tube out of sand grains and shell fragments, which has a characteristic frayed end that protrudes above the sand. Lanice conchilega uses its crown of white tentacles to trap particles of food.
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Distribution

Lanice conchilega is widely distributed on the Belgian part of the North Sea. However, the frequency of occurrence was the highest in the near-coastal zone in both periods. Whereas the species occurred along the entire coast in the 1976-1986 period, Lanice conchilega appeared to be practically absent in the eastern coastal zone in the 1994-2001 period. In both periods densities up to 1,000s ind./m2 were observed with a maximum density of about 10,000 ind./m2 in the 1994-2001 period.
  • Degraer S., J. Wittoeck, W. Appeltans, K. Cooreman, T. Deprez, H. Hillewaert, K. Hostens, J. Mees, E. Vanden Berghe & M. Vincx (2006). The macrobenthos atlas of the Belgian part of the North Sea. Belgian Science Policy. D/2005/1191/3. ISBN 90-810081-6-1. 164 pp.
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L. conchilega is widely distributed in the area, i.e. from the tidal estuaries to the Dogger Bank in the north. Locally it is found with extremely large numbers (over 3000 ind./m²). The highest densities are found north of the Wadden islands, from Terschelling to the eastern boundary of the Dutch sector of the North Sea. When living in dense patches, the species can form an important part of the total biomass of an area.
  • Holtmann, S.E.; Groenewold, A.; Schrader, K.H.M.; Asjes, J.; Craeymeersch, J.A.; Duineveld, G.C.A.; van Bostelen, A.J.; van der Meer, J. (1996). Atlas of the zoobenthos of the Dutch continental shelf. Ministry of Transport, Public Works and Water Management: Rijswijk, The Netherlands. ISBN 90-369-4301-9. 243 pp.
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Physical Description

Diagnostic Description

Description

A tube-living bristle worm whose body consists of two parts: a swollen anterior end with a reduced head and specially formed segments and a narrowed posterior end. The head has numerous active feeding tentacles. Three pairs of bright-red gills are present on the first three segments behind the head. Measures up to 300 mm long. The tube consists of medium-sized to large sand grains with a characteristic fan shape at the top. Several tubes together can form so-called ‘sand reefs’.
  • Degraer S., J. Wittoeck, W. Appeltans, K. Cooreman, T. Deprez, H. Hillewaert, K. Hostens, J. Mees, E. Vanden Berghe & M. Vincx (2006). The macrobenthos atlas of the Belgian part of the North Sea. Belgian Science Policy. D/2005/1191/3. ISBN 90-810081-6-1. 164 pp.
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Morphology

L. conchilega has an elongated body, consisting of two regions. The swollen front region has hair-like as well as hooked chaetae; the long, slender tail region only hooked ones. The species can reach a length of up to 150 mm with up to 300 segments. The head bears a dense tuft of long, thin tentacles. The first segment projects forwards, forming two lobes at both sides of the head. The next three segments carry branched gills. The worm is yellowish, pink or brown coloured with blood-red gills and white tentacles. L. conchilega builds a characteristic tube, consisting of cemented sand grains and shell fragments and with a typical fringe at the top end (Hartmann-Schröder, 1971; Holthe, 1986; Fish & Fish, 1989; Hayward & Ryland, 1990).
  • Holtmann, S.E.; Groenewold, A.; Schrader, K.H.M.; Asjes, J.; Craeymeersch, J.A.; Duineveld, G.C.A.; van Bostelen, A.J.; van der Meer, J. (1996). Atlas of the zoobenthos of the Dutch continental shelf. Ministry of Transport, Public Works and Water Management: Rijswijk, The Netherlands. ISBN 90-369-4301-9. 243 pp.
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Morphology

For more information on the physiology and tube structure see Jones and Jago (1993) and Ziegelmeier (1952).
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Ecology

Habitat

Lanice conchilega is found in various sediments but displays a preference for fine to medium-grained sediments (100 to 500 µm) with a relatively high mud content (10 to 40%).
  • Degraer S., J. Wittoeck, W. Appeltans, K. Cooreman, T. Deprez, H. Hillewaert, K. Hostens, J. Mees, E. Vanden Berghe & M. Vincx (2006). The macrobenthos atlas of the Belgian part of the North Sea. Belgian Science Policy. D/2005/1191/3. ISBN 90-810081-6-1. 164 pp.
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L. conchilega mainly lives in mixed sand bottoms and rarely in muddy bottoms.
  • Holtmann, S.E.; Groenewold, A.; Schrader, K.H.M.; Asjes, J.; Craeymeersch, J.A.; Duineveld, G.C.A.; van Bostelen, A.J.; van der Meer, J. (1996). Atlas of the zoobenthos of the Dutch continental shelf. Ministry of Transport, Public Works and Water Management: Rijswijk, The Netherlands. ISBN 90-369-4301-9. 243 pp.
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Depth range based on 3712 specimens in 1 taxon.
Water temperature and chemistry ranges based on 1290 samples.

Environmental ranges
  Depth range (m): 0 - 1175
  Temperature range (°C): 3.333 - 27.668
  Nitrate (umol/L): 0.316 - 18.094
  Salinity (PPS): 31.982 - 36.315
  Oxygen (ml/l): 4.024 - 6.899
  Phosphate (umol/l): 0.038 - 1.448
  Silicate (umol/l): 1.657 - 17.786

Graphical representation

Depth range (m): 0 - 1175

Temperature range (°C): 3.333 - 27.668

Nitrate (umol/L): 0.316 - 18.094

Salinity (PPS): 31.982 - 36.315

Oxygen (ml/l): 4.024 - 6.899

Phosphate (umol/l): 0.038 - 1.448

Silicate (umol/l): 1.657 - 17.786
 
Note: this information has not been validated. Check this *note*. Your feedback is most welcome.

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 Lanice conchilega is found in intertidal and subtidal sediments
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Relevance to Humans and Ecosystems

Risks

Positive Environmental Impact

As an ecosystem engineer, the hydrodynamic changes, increased O2 concentrations, and habitat stabilizing effects in the subtidal and intertidal areas resulting from L. conchilega greatly increase biodiversity, abundance and biomass in surrounding environments (Van Hoey et al. 2008). Lanice conchilega increases the O2 content in its surrounding habitat by “piston-pumping” water and diffusing O2 into areas of lower O2 concentration (Forster & Graf 1995). This action also provides nutrition, as detritus and suspended particles in the water flow through the “tube” and are consumed by the worm (Buhr 1976). This polychaete will switch between suspension and detritus feeding depending upon particle predominance.

The tubes that L. conchilega build for shelter are mucus cemented structures of sand and broken shells. Resembling coral reefs, these tube colonies provide shelter for a variety of other species (Strasser & Pieloth 2001).

This bristle worm is also a reliable monitor of its environment. Weber and Ernst (1978) found higher than normal Bromophenol concentrations in L. conchilega in comparison to the surrounding water. However, they could not determine if the chemical was a bioaccumulation or a natural result of metabolism. Bromophenols are naturally antibacterial and possess enzyme and free radical uptake properties (Xu et al. 2009).

Negative Environmental Impact

Large patches of L. conchilega can cause reduced biodiversity due to their overgrowth, out-competing other organisms for food and space. Their numerous tube structures can significantly change the sediment surface nd bottom roughness; this may result in tidal changes (Van Hoey et al., 2008).

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Wikipedia

Lanice conchilega

Lanice conchilega, commonly known as the sand mason worm, is a species of burrowing marine polychaete worm. It builds a characteristic tube which projects from the seabed, consisting of cemented sand grains and shell fragments with a fringe at the top.

Polychaetes, or marine bristle worms, have elongated bodies divided into many segments. Each segment may bear setae (bristles) and parapodia (paddle-like appendages). Some species live freely, either swimming, crawling or burrowing, and these are known as "errant". Others live permanently in tubes, either calcareous or parchment-like, and these are known as "sedentary".

Description[edit]

Lanice conchilega under water

L. conchilega can grow up to thirty centimetres long with as many as three hundred segments. It has an elongated body divided into two parts. The head bears a dense tuft of long, thin tentacles. The upper lip is narrow and encloses the mouth. The buccal segment has protruding lobes laterally and ventrally and there are many eye spots. Segments 2 to 4 bear branching gills with broad stems and a thick crown. The third segment has a large lobe that obscures the second segment. Posterior to these, the thoracic region consists of seventeen segments and is cylindrical and firm. There are glandular pads on the ventral sides of segments 14 to 20 which bear both hair-like and hooked chaetae. The long, slender abdomen is soft and bears only hooked chaetae. The worm is yellowish, pink or brown with pale-coloured tentacles and red gills.[1][2]

Distribution and habitat[edit]

L. conchilega is found in the northern hemisphere in many parts of the world. It is found living in soft sediments, sand or muddy sand and among Zostera and benthic algae. It is tolerant of low salinity and is found in the eulittoral zone and at depths down to 1700 metres.[2]

Biology[edit]

Tubes debris left by falling tide

L. conchilega lives in a straight tube composed of large sand grains and shell fragments cemented with mucus that protrudes several centimetres from the surface of the sediment. The long tentacles protrude from the top searching for food particles and are supported by the fringe-like rim of the tube. The worm can retreat rapidly into the tube if danger threatens, and can extend the tube if it becomes buried in shifting sediment.[1]

This worm can be found as a few scattered individuals or in populations of several thousand per square metre. Buhr and Winter considered it likely that at low densities, the worm is predominately a detritivore, feeding on organic particles such as foraminiferans, ciliates, copepods, algae and the faeces of echinoderms and molluscs.[1] At higher densities, it is more likely to be a suspension feeder, feeding on plankton and other organic particles floating in the water column.[3]

Individual mason worms are either male or female and breeding occurs in spring and summer in the northern hemisphere. The larvae remain suspended in the plankton for about two months and during that time may become widely dispersed.[4] After about five days, each larva starts to form a tube of slime and detritus, in which it develops further, and by the time it is sixty days old and ready to settle, it has twelve to fourteen thoracic segments.[5]

Ecology[edit]

Large congregations of the mason worm can be considered as reef-building.[6] Patches of tubes influence the habitat structure and are of consequence for the distribution and abundance of other species living under the seabed.[7]

L. conchilega is part of the diet of a number of wading birds [8] and of young flat fish.[9]

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b c d e World Register of Marine Species
  2. ^ a b Marine Species Identification Portal
  3. ^ Buhr, K.J. & Winter, J.E., (1977). Distribution and maintenance of a Lanice conchilega association in the Weser estuary (FRG), with special reference to the suspension-feeding behaviour of Lanice conchilega. In Proceedings of the Eleventh European Symposium of Marine Biology, University College, Galway, 5–11 October 1976. Biology of Benthic Organisms (ed. B.F. Keegan, P.O. Ceidigh & P.J.S. Boaden), pp. 101-113. Oxford: Pergamon Press.
  4. ^ Marine Life Information Network
  5. ^ Zooplankton and Micronekton of the North Sea
  6. ^ Rabaut, M., Vincx, M., Degraer, S., 2009. Do Lanice conchilega (sandmason) aggregations classify as reefs? Quantifying habitat modifying effects. Helgol. Mar. Res. 63, 37-46.
  7. ^ Feral, P., 1989. Biosedimentological implications of the polychaete Lanice conchilega (Pallas) on the intertidal zone of two Norman sandy shores (France). B. Soc. Geol. Fr. 5, 1193-1200.
  8. ^ British Marine Life
  9. ^ Vanaverbeke J., U. Braeckman, S. Claus, W. Courtens, N. De Hauwere, S. Degraer, K. Deneudt, A. Goffin, J. Mees, B. Merckx, P. Provoost, M. Rabaut, K. Soetaert E. Stienen and M. Vincx (2009). Analysis of long-term data from the Belgian Continental Shelf in the framework of science-based management of the coastal North Sea. Workshop Report WestBanks, Oostende 29/10-31/10/2008.
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