Overview

Comprehensive Description

Spirorbis is a diverse genus of small, tube-building serpulid polychaetes. All members build and inhabit coiled tubes that attach to submerged vegatation, rocks, dock pilings, or other substrata. The tubes may be either dextrally or sinestrally coiled, depending on the species (Fauchald 1978). Anatomical details of the animals themselves differ by species, but all are soft-bodied worms occupying coiled shell tubes. A short abdominal segment connects to a somewhat broadened thorax topped with (typically ten) stiff tentacles modified as feeding appendages. One of the tentacles is modified into a saucer-shaped operculum used to seal off the tube and protect the animal from predators and desiccation.Tube formation in Spirorbis is accomplished through calcium secreting glands in the peristomium of the animal (Hedley 1956).
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Source: Indian River Lagoon Species Inventory

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Distribution

The genus Spirorbis as a whole occurs across a very broad distributional range of latitudes. For example, specimens identified as S. borealis have been collected from Iceland south to Florida. Species-specific distributional information is currently lacking. Spirorbis occurs on suitable macrophyte habitats and some other hard substrata throughout the India River Lagoon.
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Source: Indian River Lagoon Species Inventory

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Physical Description

Size

Most species of Spirorbis have body lengths of around 3 mm.
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Source: Indian River Lagoon Species Inventory

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Look Alikes

Identification of any Spirorbis specimens to species level is difficult, even for trained taxonomists. The literature abounds with questionable or errant species designations. The Integrated Taxonomic Information System (ITIS) recognizes some two dozen valid species within the genus.
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Ecology

Habitat

Depth range based on 13 specimens in 5 taxa.
Water temperature and chemistry ranges based on 1 sample.

Environmental ranges
  Depth range (m): 0 - 242
  Temperature range (°C): 9.458 - 9.458
  Nitrate (umol/L): 2.286 - 2.286
  Salinity (PPS): 31.635 - 31.635
  Oxygen (ml/l): 6.746 - 6.746
  Phosphate (umol/l): 0.273 - 0.273
  Silicate (umol/l): 1.963 - 1.963

Graphical representation

Depth range (m): 0 - 242
 
Note: this information has not been validated. Check this *note*. Your feedback is most welcome.

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Trophic Strategy

Like most serpulid polychaetes, Spirorbis are filter-feeding animals. They use a crown of stiff tentacles to capture particles from the surrounding water. Predators: Spirorbis and other seagrass and macrtoalgal epibiota is opportunistically preyed upon by various grazers of marine macrophytes (Wressing and Booth 2007). The calcareous tube dwellings offers a limited degree of protection from smaller or less robust predators. Associated Animals: Active preference by settling Spirorbis for surfaces coated by microbial films has been reported (Walters et al. 1997). DeSilva (1962) reports preferential settlement of S. tridentatus onto stones with bio-organic films. Several other authors have reported settlement-stage Spirorbis for specific macroalgae (e.g., Stebbing 1972, MacKay and Doyle 1978, Al-Ogily 1985). Fenical (1993) notes that these associations may be associated exclusively with the macroalgae, with the presence of bacteria on algal surfaces, or both. The presence of adult conspecifics has also been shown to increase settlement rates in S. borealis and S. pagastecheri (Knight-Jones 1951, Walters et al. 1997).Mook (1983) reports that Spirorbis sp. settled onto the tests (body surface) of the sea squirt Styela plicata during the course of field experiments conducted in the Indian River Lagoon.Spirorbis spp. has also been reported as an epibiont on sick and injured sea turtles in southwest Florida (Thompson 1997). Habitats: Bell et al. (2001) describe Spirorbis spirillum as a tube-building epibiont typically found attached to seagrass blades. Turtle grass (Thalassia testudinum) and manatee grass (Syringodium filiforme) are the most heavily colonized of Florida's seagrass species. Other species of Spirorbis typically attach to fucoid brown algae, e.g., as reported for S. borealis in the vicinity of Woods Hole, MA (Schively 1897). Spirorbis also occurs on pelagic Sargassum macroalgae in the Guld Stream (Weis 1968).Less commonly, Spirorbis settles onto red mangrove (Rhizophora mangle) prop roots (Bingham 1992).Dirnberger (1990) reports that Spirorbis spirillum larvae disproportionately settle on the bases of growing Thalassia blades and actively avoid epiphytic algae associated with the distal portion of the blades. Bell et al. (2001) report that S. spirillum densities on Thalassia seagrass blades was reduced at grassbed edges compared to the seagrass bed interior, and suggested hydrodynamic alteration of food supply or larval recruitment as explanations.
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Associations

In Great Britain and/or Ireland:
Animal / epizoite
Folliculina ampulla lives on tube of Spirorbis

Animal / associate
Monocelis lineata is associated with dead tube of Spirorbis

Animal / parasite / ectoparasite / blood sucker
branchial tentacle of adult of Odostomia lukisi sucks the blood of Spirorbis

Animal / parasite / ectoparasite / blood sucker
branchial tentacle of adult of Odostomia unidentata sucks the blood of Spirorbis

Animal / epizoite
Zoothamnion arbuscula lives on tube of Spirorbis

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Known predators

Spirorbis is prey of:
Leptasterias
Cribina
Actinopterygii
Carcinides
Cancer

Based on studies in:
USA: Washington, Cape Flattery (Littoral, Rocky shore)
USA: California, Cabrillo Point (Littoral, Rocky shore)
USA: Massachusetts, Cape Ann (Littoral, Rocky shore)

This list may not be complete but is based on published studies.
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Known prey organisms

Spirorbis preys on:
plankton
detritus
phytoplankton
zooplankton

Based on studies in:
USA: Washington, Cape Flattery (Littoral, Rocky shore)
USA: Massachusetts, Cape Ann (Littoral, Rocky shore)
USA: California, Cabrillo Point (Littoral, Rocky shore)

This list may not be complete but is based on published studies.
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Population Biology

NOAA NBI collection records from Florida Bay and adjacent coastal waters reveal field densities of Spirorbis to vary between 25 and 1,600 individuals/m2, with most records reporting densities of 100/m2 or less.
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Life History and Behavior

Reproduction

A survey of the literature indicates that reproductive strategies differ somewhat among the members of genus Spirorbis. Much of the genus appears to exhibit hermaphroditism with some species self-fertilizing and others cross-fertilizing, and most protectively brood their eggs and larvae (Bergan 1953, Gee and Williams 1965, Potswald 1968, Ghiselin 1969). Some species appear to rely on external fertilization while others appear to utilize internal fertilization (Potswald 1968).Reproductive seasonality appears variable among species and geographical locations as well. Surveys by Rothlisberg (1974) indicate La Jolla, CA, populations of S. marioni produce and brood eggs year-round, and those by Mook (1983) suggest Indian River Lagoon Spororbis spp. reproduce throughout the year as well. Seasonal reproductive peaks appear correlated with water temperature, and periodic peaks in spawning and larval release may correlate with tidal extremes (Rothlisberg 1974). utilize internal fertilization (Potswald 1968).In Spirorbis spirorbis (Daly and Golding 1977, Rice 1978) and possibly other Spirornis species, sperm storage and delayed fertilization at the time of egg release obviate the need for synchronized spawning in functional males and females within the population.
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Growth

Spirorbis spirillum broods its eggs and larvae until the larvae are released to the water column for a brief (minutes) period before settling (Dirnberger 1990, Bell et al. 2001). Potswald (1968) notes that brood protection within genus Spirorbis occurs either within the parental tube or within a modified opercular structure. Larvae accumulate environmental calcium and secrete it at settlement during tube formation (Nott and Parkes 1975).Mook (1983) reports the year-round settlement of large numbers of Spirorbis spp. in the Indian River Lagoon. Mook (1981) noted a higher incidence of settlement onto experimental tiles that had been recently scraped clean and suggested these tiles suitably mimicked naturally-occurring freshly opened primary space that the species is adapted to rapidly colonize.
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Molecular Biology and Genetics

Molecular Biology

Statistics of barcoding coverage

Barcode of Life Data Systems (BOLD) Stats
Specimen Records:50
Specimens with Sequences:9
Specimens with Barcodes:8
Species:8
Species With Barcodes:3
Public Records:6
Public Species:3
Public BINs:3
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Barcode data

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Relevance to Humans and Ecosystems

Benefits

Although the overall ecological importance of Spirorbis is not known, it is a broadly distributed and diverse polychaete genus.
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Wikipedia

Spirorbis

Spirorbis is a genus of very small (2-5mm) polychaete worms, usually with a white coiled shell. Members of the genus live in the lower littoral and sublittoral zones of rocky shores. Spirorbis worms usually live attached to seaweeds, but some species live directly on rocks, shells or other hard substrates. Spirorbis was once thought to have a fossil record extending back into the Early Paleozoic, but now all pre-Cretaceous spirorbins are known to be microconchids.[2] The earliest members of genus appeared in the Miocene, but Oligocene finds may also be possible. [3] The genus contains the following species:

References[edit]

  1. ^ Wiesner, E. (1962). "Spirorbis-Deckel aus dem Frankfurter Aquitan". Senckenbergiana Lethaia 43: 367–374. 
  2. ^ Taylor, P.D. & Vinn, O (2006). "Convergent morphology in small spiral worm tubes ("Spirorbis") and its palaeoenvironmental implications". Journal of the Geological Society 163 (2): 225–228. doi:10.1144/0016-764905-145. Retrieved 2014-06-11. 
  3. ^ Wiesner, E. (1962). "Spirorbis-Deckel aus dem Frankfurter Aquitan". Senckenbergiana Lethaia 43: 367–374. 
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