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Dorvilleidae Family Dorvilleidae (dorvilleid)
Eunicida (Annelida: Polychaeta)
About Family Dorvilleidae polychaetes in New Zealand.  
How to recognise the family: Dorvilleids have characteristic chitinous jaw elements consisting of four longitudinal rows of minute, toothed, black plates, which can only be seen by dissection. Fortunately dorvilleids can easily be recognised from the characteristic two pairs of appendages on the rounded prostomium. The dorsal antennae usually have a beaded appearance with multiple 'joints', and the ventral palps are thicker than the antennae, curving back under the head, with a small joint near the tip. There are no tentacular cirri on the peristomium. The parapodia have thick dorsal cirri, also with jointed tips. There are only neuropodial chaetae which include simple chaetae and slender compound forms. The pygidium has one or two pairs of anal cirri. Dorvilleids are carnivorous or omnivorous grazers. Adult size: Never very large, but up to 40 mm length.
How to recognise the New Zealand genera: The Dorvillea-like species have all unfused jaw plates and well-developed parapodia, whereas in Ophryotrocha-like species some jaw plates are fused, and notopodia are absent. These species are small and conspicuously ciliated.
Quick pick shore species: There are only a few common large dorvilleids in New Zealand, belonging to the genus Dorvillea. The species names used previously, Dorvillea australiensis (McIntosh, 1885) and Schistomeringos incerta (Schmarda, 1861), are doubtfully derived. In addition the genus Ophryotrocha contains many small species much investigated for the complex hermaproditism and sex reversal aspects of their reproductive biology. These or related forms are likely to be the small pale worms occasionally seen crawling across the glass panels of marine aquaria and feeding on the film of micro-organisms. They have very reduced jaws and other appendages and, together with the Iphitimidae with which they have been merged, probably are a distinct sub-group of the dorvilleids. The species Ophryotrocha puerilis Claparede and Mecznikow, 1869 has been reported worldwide, but these reports, including from New Zealand, may represent a confusion of related species. Two even smaller New Zealand dorvilleids, Microdorvillea otagensis Westheide and von Nordheim, 1985, and Petrocha notogaea von Nordheim, 1987, have recently been described.
Possible misidentifications: None.
Distributions, lifestyle, and habitat: Distributions, lifestyle, and habitat:, occurring both in the intertidal and across the continental shelf. A Dorvillea species occurs in algal holdfasts and other crevice habitats provided by rock and sessile marine plants and animals. Species of other genera have been collected free-swimming at night but their habitat is unknown. Microscopic dorvilleids occur in coarse sands. Dorvilleids occur throughout New Zealand. Nothing is known regarding restricted distributions of particular species.
Abundance: Moderately frequent though not often common.
Taxonomic note: Also may include the neotenic family Dinophilidae and the aberrant genus Iphitime (Iphitimidae), though debate continues on the position of the Dinophilidae. Iphitime, a genus of brachyuran crab commensals, has not been reported for New Zealand.
References: (Augener 1924b: p433-436), (Day & Hutchings 1979: p121-122), (Eibye-Jacobsen & Kristensen 1994: p107-131, f1-11), (Hilbig & Blake 1991: p147-183, f1-27), (Jumars 1974: p101-135, f1-14), (McIntosh 1885: p232, P17a.9-10, 32.6), (von Nordheim 1987: 33-37, f1-3), (Orensanz 1990: p110-129, P32-38), (Pleijel & Eide 1996: p647-659, f1-27), (Schmarda 1861: p79), (Westheide & von Nordheim 1985: p189-191, f6-7), (Wolf 1986: p627-638, f1-5).
(Full citations at Family pages literature cited list.)

Species in the guide: Rock Species: Dorvillea australiensis
Sand Species: None for this family.
Shell Species: None for this family.

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Last modified by G. Read, 25/07/2004    (dd/mm/yy)