Journal article 629 views
Tube worms promote community change / Ruth Callaway
MARINE ECOLOGY PROGRESS SERIES, Volume: 308, Pages: 49 - 60
Swansea University Author: Ruth, Callaway
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Dense lawns of tube worms modify their immediate environment. They alter sedimentproperties, offer refuge from predation and provide a settlement surface for larvae and small organisms.The terebellid polychaete Lanice conchilega is among the tube dwellers that, when present athigh densities, alter t...
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Dense lawns of tube worms modify their immediate environment. They alter sedimentproperties, offer refuge from predation and provide a settlement surface for larvae and small organisms.The terebellid polychaete Lanice conchilega is among the tube dwellers that, when present athigh densities, alter the community structure of other benthic fauna. However, L. conchilega oftenoccurs individually or at low densities over large areas, and it is not known whether single tubes alsoaffect the surrounding fauna. In this study a low density population of L. conchilega (15.7 ± 15.6 m–2)was investigated on an exposed beach in South Wales, UK, from May 1998 to April 1999. Effects ofsingle tubes and small groups of 2 to 5 tubes on the benthic community were examined over 1 yr. Therelationship between L. conchilega and an associated amphipod (Urothoe poseidonis) was studiedmore closely in the field and the laboratory. Of a total of 56 species, 27 were found exclusively in sampleswith L. conchilega tubes. In comparison with tube-free samples, species richness and abundanceof individuals was significantly higher in samples containing L. conchilega tubes. The communitystructure differed significantly between samples containing groups of tubes and tube-free samples in10 out of 11 cases and in 9 of 11 cases for samples with 1 tube compared to samples with no tubes.Throughout the year, the polychaete Eumida sanguinea and the haustoriid amphipod U. poseidonisbenefited from the presence of L. conchilega. E. sanguinea lives among the fringe filaments of thetube top, and U. poseidonis inhabits areas deep in the sediment in close vicinity to the tube. Laboratoryexperiments indicated that, unlike other haustoriids, the amphipod is not prone to benthopelagicmigration but remains in the sediment for long periods of time and may benefit from animproved oxygen supply arising from L. conchilega’s activity inside the tube. It is concluded that notonly groups of tubes, but also single polychaete tubes bioengineer their environment.
Lanice conchilega, Bioengineering, Habitat engineer, Tube worm, Benthic
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