NIWA Guide to Polychaeta | Shore polychaetes | Pick shore group | Pick shore family | Shell polychaetes
Maldanidae Family Maldanidae (maldanid/bamboo worm)
Scolecida (Annelida: Polychaeta)
About Family Maldanidae polychaetes in New Zealand.  
How to recognise the family: Bamboo worms are large, blunt-ended, cylindrical worms and feed as bulk consumers of sediment using a balloon-like proboscis. The fixed number of smooth, characteristically-elongated segments appear somewhat like the nodes and internodes on a bamboo stem. The dorsal head is usually flat with a raised rim, giving an overall wedge-shaped anterior in life, more usually seen contracted in death as a blunt plug (cephalic plaque). A prostomial tip, the palpode, connects to a raised median ridge, the cephalic keel, which may be bordered by curved nuchal slits. The tail end may be funnel-like and may have fringing cirri. Some segments may have pocket-like encircling flaps called collars. Chaetigers have both notochaetae and neurochaetae and the supporting lobes are entirely absent or just low pads. Notochaetae are capillaries, replaced by spines anteriorly in some genera (Euclymene, Petaloproctus). Neurochaetae are long-handled, multi-toothed hooks (absent from chaetiger one in Asychis and Maldane). Adult size: Very small maldanids occur in other habitats, but softshore species are large, up to 150 mm in length by 7 mm width.
How to recognise the New Zealand genera: Data missing.
Quick pick shore species: Maldanids are very difficult to identify unless complete, since the distinguishing characters are usually on both head and tail and the total number of chaetigers is also important. Unfortunately, as large deep burrowers, they are not easy to collect intact. Macroclymenella stewartensis Augener, 1926 has a chaetiger four collar, numerous cirri on an anal funnel and about 30 chaetigers. Axiothella serrata Kudenov & Read, 1978 has no collars, always 22 chaetigers, and an anal funnel with one long mid-ventral anal cirrus and the remaining cirri short. There is also a large Asychis species similar to Asychis amphiglypta (Ehlers, 1897). Other maldanids do occur on softshores, but will be encountered infrequently.
Possible misidentifications: Morton & Miller (1973: p531) misapplied the names "Asychis theodori" (perhaps this was Asychis "amphiglypta") and "Axiothella quadrimaculata" (not a New Zealand species; probably records of Macroclymenella stewartensis). "Axiothella australis" is another misapplied name sometimes seen. The New Zealand Owenia species (Oweniidae) is also rather bamboo-like.
Distributions, lifestyle, and habitat: Most bamboo worms live below the surface in flimsy sediment tubes. They process copious amounts of sediment and deposit it in earthworm-like surface casts. During calm weather the accumulating casts become conspicuous on intertidal sands of sheltered harbours. Macroclymenella stewartensis occurs throughout New Zealand, and is not restricted to harbours. Axiothella serrata is restricted to harbours in central New Zealand (Wellington, and the north of the South Island). In the northern half of the North Island the Asychis "amphiglypta" may occur very low on harbour shores in muddy sands.
Abundance: Locally common, to 400 per square metre as adults.
Taxonomic note: Includes the former independent family Bogueidae.
References: (Augener 1926: p182-210, f6-11), (Ehlers 1904: p54-55, P7.16-19, 8.1-5), (Kudenov & Read 1977: p697-702, f1), (Light 1991: p133-146, f1-2), (McIntosh 1885: p398, P25a.13, 47.4), (Read 1984: p399-411, f1-7), (Wolf 1983: p238-249, f1-3).
(Full citations at Family pages literature cited list.)

Species in the guide: Rock Species: None for this family.
Sand Species: Asychis amphiglyptus | Axiothella serrata | Macroclymenella stewartensis
Shell Species: None for this family.

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