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Sabellariidae Family Sabellariidae (sabellariid)
Sabellida (Annelida: Polychaeta)
About Family Sabellariidae polychaetes in New Zealand.  
How to recognise the family: Sabellariids live in thick-walled sand and shell-fragment tubes cemented to rock or to any durable surface. Some colonial species form conspicuous hummocks and substantial reefs. Sabellariids have several body specialisations that make them unique. There is a distinctive operculum structure anteriorly with symmetrical circlets of strong chaetae, the crown of paleae, which blocks the tube opening. Posteriorly the body ends in a distinctive narrow, elongate, unsegmented tube bent forward along a mid-ventral groove of the mid-body. A group of filamentous feeding tentacles occur anterior to the mouth on the ventral side of the opercular stalk and a pair of short palps is present. The main body segments consist firstly of three or four segments identifiable by their oar-like notochaetae, the parathoracic segments, followed by many abdominal segments with notochaetae in the form of numerous fine uncini placed along the edge of a raised lobe. Neurochaetae are capillaries. Each parathoracic segment and anterior abdominal segment has a dorsal pair of simple gills. Adult size: Individuals to 50 mm length.
How to recognise the New Zealand genera: See species notes.
Quick pick shore species: The common intertidal colonial species, formerly in genus Sabellaria, is now called Neosabellaria kaiparaensis (Augener, 1926) following a worldwide review of the family. Neosabellaria species have completely fused crowns, three parathoracic segments, three types of opercular paleae, and lack nuchal hooks. The other known coastal species is the solitary Paraidanthyrsus quadricornis (Schmarda, 1861), which has conspicuous sets of opposing hooks dorsally just posterior to the paleal crown, the latter in two parts with only two types of paleae. Additional species occur in deeper water but have not yet been studied.
Possible misidentifications: None
Distributions, lifestyle, and habitat: Sabellariids occur throughout New Zealand, except that Neosabellaria kaiparaensis may be absent from the Chatham Islands and the Subantarctic. Both coastal species are endemic. Sabellariids are filter feeders and detritus feeders. Neosabellaria kaiparaensis colonies are conspicuous when present in the lower intertidal, usually occurring cemented to the rocks on the outer fringes of a rocky strip of coast where there is an adjacent sand supply, or where sandy and rocky areas are intermixed. Each sabellariid sand hummock can be metres across and tens of centimetres high, appearing even higher if supported by an underlying rock formation. The largest colonies of this species occur sporadically along the western North Island coast in suitable habitats, but the species is widely distributed elsewhere. The solitary Paraidanthyrsus quadricornis is usually found at the base of rock overhangs or under stones in the lower intertidal and shallow subtidal.
Abundance: Common.
Taxonomic note: The sabellariids appear to fit more adequately in the Sabellida clade rather than Terebellida where they have often been placed in the past. Although Kirtley (1994) did not merge other names erected by Augener for New Zealand coastal Neosabellaria, there is little doubt that only one species can be justified. Augener's additional taxa were based on limited, poor material.
References: (Augener 1926: p212-223, f12-16), (Ekdale & Lewis 1993: p614-620, f1-7), (Kirtley 1994: p1-223, f1.1-12.10, P1), (Morton & Miller 1973: f80.4-5, P4.b), (Schmarda 1861: p25, P20.174).
(Full citations at Family pages literature cited list.)

Species in the guide: Rock Species: Neosabellaria kaiparaensis
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)