NIWA Guide to Polychaeta | Shore polychaetes | Pick shore group | Pick shore family | Shell polychaetes
Flabelligeridae Family Flabelligeridae (flabelligerid)
Terebellida (Annelida: Polychaeta)
About Family Flabelligeridae polychaetes in New Zealand.  
How to recognise the family: Flabelligerids or bristle-cage worms are cylindrical tapering worms with a papillose body surface, which is encrusted with debris or covered with jelly-like mucus, and with rather disordered, long, hair-like chaetae. Bright-coloured delicate head gills and palps are retractable into the mouth and may not be visible. Notochaetae and some neurochaetae are usually capillaries with internal cross-bars. Other neurochaetae may be compound with one or many apparent joints and hooked tips. In some genera the placement of the anterior chaetae forms a cage around the head. Anal cirri are lacking. Adult size: Length to 50 mm.
How to recognise the New Zealand genera: How to recognise the New Zealand shore genera: Flabelligera species are embedded in mucus and have jointed neurochaetae; Pherusa lack these features.
Quick pick shore species: The New Zealand flabelligerids are little known apart from the two intertidal to shallow water species known as Flabelligera bicolor (Schmarda,1861) (or as Flabelligera affinis Sars, 1829) and Pherusa parmata (Grube, 1878). Flabelligera bicolor is typically embedded in jelly and its body is near-transparent. Pherusa parmata lacks compound neurochaetae and has a plate-like head thickening.
Possible misidentifications: None.
Distributions, lifestyle, and habitat: Throughout New Zealand in the low intertidal and subtidal to continental shelf. Pherusa parmata is found in muddy rock crevices, especially in soft rock borings, and Flabelligera affinis in less silted habitats under stones, both generally intertidally and in sheltered waters. Both may be found amongst wharf-pile fouling. All flabelligerids appear to be surface deposit feeders.
Abundance: Moderately common.
Taxonomic note: The family used to be known as the Chlorhaemidae, and also includes the former Helmetophoridae. The head structures of simple gills and palps are important in identification to genus, but are often difficult to observe without dissection because they are usually retracted into the mouth in preserved specimens. Several subtidal species, which may be undescribed, occur in subtidal soft substrata and belong to the genera Diplocirrus and Brada. Elsewhere species of Flabelliderma are commensals of echinoids.
References: (Augener 1926: p180-181, f5), (Benham 1915a: p163-170, f3-10), (Ehlers 1904: p47-50, P7.1-10), (McIntosh 1885: p371-372, P23a.9-10, 45.3-4), (Milligan 1984a: p1-20, f47.1-14), (Morton & Miller 1973: p234-236 as Chlorhaemidae, f79.4-5, 80.6-7), (Schmarda 1861: p21, f169, P20).
(Full citations at Family pages literature cited list.)

Species in the guide: Rock Species: Flabelligera affinis | Pherusa parmata
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)