NIWA Guide to Polychaeta | Shore polychaetes | Shell polychaetes
Shell worm Polydora hoplura Spionidae (spionid)
Spionida (Annelida: Polychaeta)
Polydora  hoplura  Clapar├Ęde, 1870.   Family Spionidae  
     Polydora hoplura with eggmass on Atrina zelandica
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 Identification tips:    Boat-hook-like posterior notopodial spines. Distinctive colour pattern(s) present; some dusky head pigment and some dorsal midbody white pigment.
 Habitat: Inshore marine embayment. Known from mollusc shell. In bivalves. In self-created shell-borings (confirmed for Ostrea chilensis), or in shell blisters, debri packed. Recorded from living shells of New Zealand commercial shellfish: Atrina pectinata, Haliotis iris, Ostrea chilensis, Pecten novaezelandiae, Crassostrea gigas Tube lining present as packing within mud blister.
 Nomenclature: Genus Polydora in Family Spionidae. Polydora hoplura. Described by Claparède, published in 1870, as Polydora hoplura Type locality: Italy, Golfe de Naples. Other synonyms: none recorded
 Description:  Head region: Prostomium tip weakly notched. Occipital antenna present. Caruncle extends to anterior chaetiger 4; separate mid-dorsal organ absent. Colouration: Eyes present, two pairs; coloured black. Dorsal pigmentation pattern present; dark anterior dorsal pigmentation present. Dark anterior pigmentation on head (brown dusky pigmentation on prostomium and peristomium). White (or yellow white) anterior dorsal pigmentation absent. Palp banding absent. White mid-body or posterior dorsal pigmentation present (mid-body). Branchiae, chaetae, and pygidium: Branchiae adjoining parapodia 7 and following; near body end branchiae present (usually ending before notosetal spines begin). Anterior gut gizzard-like structure absent. Hooded hooks begin chaetiger 7; bifid, hook shaft constriction (manubrium) present, anterior hooded hook main fang more or less oriented at right angles to the shaft with narrow (acute) angle to apical tooth. Alternating capillaries adjacent hooded hooks absent; neurochaetal inferior chaetae below hooded hooks absent. Chaetiger one notochaetae absent; notopodial lobe present. Chaetiger 5 elongated relative to adjacent segments. Chaetae of chaetiger 5 'upper' (or 'posterior') row falcate with subterminal lateral flange, 'lower' (or 'anterior') row are hastate tipped 'companion' chaetae. Superior notochaetae of chaetiger 5 present. Chaetiger 5 postchaetal lobes absent. Posterior notochaetal spines present; strongly falcate. Pygidium flattened disc/saucer-rim with dorsal notch/gap.
 Dimensions: Length 40 mm. Width 2 mm. Segment total 180. Palps extend to about chaetiger 25. A large species.
 Reproduction: Active planktonic dispersal present. Larval nutrition nurse egg lecithotrophic; poecilogony absent or undetected.
 Distribution:  World distribution includes New Zealand and elsewhere. Suspected to be anthropochoric (human-related introductions). Global distribution includes New Zealand mainland, Mediterranean..
 Remarks:  Polydora hoplura is a penetrative shell-blisterer, distinctive morphologically, and probably the second most reported shell pest worm worldwide. Possibly more than one species has been included under the name, but equally it could be just be a successful invasive.
 Biology: Polydora hoplura occurs in a variety of shellfish, more usually in subtidal species. Feeding group: Surface deposit/filter-feeding.
 Best References:   Biology: Korringa (1951) The shell of Ostrea edulis as a habitat. Observations on the epifauna of oysters living in the Oostershelde, Holland, with some notes on polychaete worms occurring there in other habitats... Archives nèerlandaises de zoologie 10:32-152. Taxonomy: Read (1975) Systematics and biology of polydorid species (Polychaeta: Spionidae) from Wellington Harbour. Journal of the Royal Society of New Zealand 5:395-419.

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

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Data last edited 23/07/2004  (dd/mm/yy), and page last generated by G. Read, 25/07/2004  (dd/mm/yy)