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Heteromastus filiformis Capitellidae (capitellid)
Scolecida (Annelida: Polychaeta)
Heteromastus  filiformis  (Clapar├Ęde, 1864).   Family Capitellidae  
     Heteromastus filiformis
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 Habitat: Intertidal. Soft shore. Enclosed harbours and sheltered bays. mud Infaunal. Depth range: 0-100 (m). Salinity regime: Estuary-like variation. Microhabitat:  Lower shore, living 10 cm or more below surface in mud. Tube: Meandering burrows.
Occurrence:  Ubiquitous in suitable habitat. Density: 20,000 (m2).
Distribution in NZ: New Zealand wide
 Feeding guild: Subsurface deposit-feeding/herbivore.
 Diagnosis:  Genus Heteromastus in Family Capitellidae.
Prostomium thin and pointed. Twelve thoracic segments, the first without chaetae. Eyespots (juveniles) rare in adults. Thoracic-abdominal junction indistinct but anterior abdominal segments larger in cross-section, especially dorsally. Posterior body chaetigers campanulate, trapezoid in section, widest ventrally. Posterior parapodial dorsal branchiae variably developed. Pygidium with a long, ventral, thick-based cirrus. Adults with capillaries only in both rami of first 5 chaetigers; multifid hooded hooks thereafter. In juveniles capillaries may be absent, or mixed with hooks on chaetigers 4 and 5. Colour: Blood red. Maximum size: 50 mm total length, 0.5 mm body width.
 Notable aspect: The sharp-pointed prostomium is characteristic.
 Comparisons:  Heteromastus filiformis may be confused with the smaller Barantolla lepte (subtidal species), but does not have the bulbous prostomium, or the first chaetiger with notochaetae only, or the eyespot line.
 Taxonomy:  Care is always needed not to confuse Heteromastus filiformis with other capitellids of other similar genera (Barantolla and Mediomastus. The possibility of cryptic geographic species exists, but is as yet uninvestigated with molecular tools.
 Distribution: Cosmopolitan.
 Biology: In New Zealand Heteromastus filiformis has a short summer spawning period with settlement around February-May after a short planktonic period. Life span is probably comparatively long at more than three years. Its presence is often correlated with presence of abundant organic matter.
 Best References:   Biology: Read (1984) Persistence of infaunal polychaete zonation patterns on a sheltered, intertidal sand flat.. New Zealand Journal of Marine and Freshwater Research 18:399-416 Taxonomy: Hutchings and Rainer (1982) Designation of a neotype of Capitella filiformis Claparede, 1864, type species of the genus Heteromastus (Polychaeta: Capitellidae). Records of the Australian Museum 34:373-380.

 Synonyms,  NZ records Original figures Original description details
 Genus diagnosis More pictures Further references (biology, etc) Family Capitellidae

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Data last edited 25/07/2004, and page last generated by G. Read, 27/07/2004    (dd/mm/yy)