BIOTIC Species Information for Magelona mirabilis
Researched byWill Rayment Data supplied byMarLIN
Refereed byMike Kendall
Scientific nameMagelona mirabilis Common nameA bristleworm
MCS CodeP807 Recent SynonymsMagelona papillicornis. See additional information.

PhylumAnnelida Subphylum
Superclass ClassPolychaeta
Subclass OrderSpionida
SuborderMagelonoidea FamilyMagelonidae
GenusMagelona Speciesmirabilis

Additional InformationMagelona papillicornis is not a true synonym. Magelona papillicornis has not changed its name and still exists off the coasts of Brazil. However, Magelona mirabilis includes the north east Atlantic animals that were once called Magelona papillicornis (M. Kendall, pers. comm.). See Jones (1977) for further taxonomic information.

For detailed notes on the identification of European Magelona sp., see Fiege et al. (2000).

Taxonomy References Hayward et al., 1996, Hayward & Ryland, 1995b, Howson & Picton, 1997, Fish & Fish, 1996, Fiege et al., 2000, Jones, 1977,
General Biology
Growth formVermiform segmented
Feeding methodSurface deposit feeder
Environmental positionInfaunal
Typical food typesDetritus, microalgae, small animals HabitBurrow dwelling
BioturbatorNot researched FlexibilityHigh (>45 degrees)
FragilityFragile SizeMedium(11-20 cm)
HeightNot relevant Growth RateInsufficient information
Adult dispersal potential100-1000m DependencyIndependent
General Biology Additional InformationAbundance
Occurs at high densities where environmental conditions are suitable. For example, Kuhl (1972) reported Magelona papillicormis at densities of 279 individuals per 0.1 m² on sandy muddy ground in the Elbe Estuary.
Magelona mirabilis feeds by gathering organic material from the sediment surface with its palps. When feeding on poorly sorted material, selectivity may be shown in that magelonids prefer to handle larger particles. Small crustaceans may also be taken as prey, for example, the mucous on the palps may trap a few harpacticoids although this is likely to be incidental (M. Kendall, pers. comm.). In well sorted sand, selectivity may be absent as particles with a high organic content have already been concentrated by other means (Fauchald & Jumars, 1979).
Biology References Hayward et al., 1996, Hayward & Ryland, 1995b, Fish & Fish, 1996, Fiege et al., 2000, Fauchald & Jumars, 1979, Kuhl, 1972, Niermann et al., 1990,
Distribution and Habitat
Distribution in Britain & IrelandExpected to occur all around the coasts of Britain and Ireland where suitable substrata occur. Recorded patchily from all British and Irish coasts.
Global distributionRecorded from North Sea coasts, the Baltic Sea, the Atlantic coast of France and the Mediterranean coast of France.
Biogeographic rangeNot researched Depth rangeMid shore to 32 m depth
MigratoryNon-migratory / Resident   
Distribution Additional Information

Substratum preferencesFine clean sand
Coarse clean sand
Physiographic preferencesOpen coast
Strait / sound
Enclosed coast / Embayment
Biological zoneLower Eulittoral
Sublittoral Fringe
Upper Infralittoral
Lower Infralittoral
Upper Circalittoral
Wave exposureVery Exposed
Moderately Exposed
Tidal stream strength/Water flowStrong (3-6 kn)
Moderately Strong (1-3 kn)
SalinityVariable (18-40 psu)
Full (30-40 psu)
Habitat Preferences Additional InformationNone entered
Distribution References Hayward et al., 1996, Hayward & Ryland, 1995b, Fish & Fish, 1996, Fiege et al., 2000, JNCC, 1999, Picton & Costello, 1998, Lackschewitz & Reise, 1998,
Reproduction/Life History
Reproductive typeGonochoristic
Developmental mechanismPlanktotrophic
Reproductive SeasonVaries with geographic location. Reproductive LocationInsufficient information
Reproductive frequencyAnnual protracted Regeneration potential No
Life span3-5 years Age at reproductive maturityInsufficient information
Generation time1-2 years FecundityInsufficient information
Egg/propagule sizeInsufficient information Fertilization typeExternal
Larval/Juvenile dispersal potential>10km Larval settlement periodInsufficient information
Duration of larval stageInsufficient information   
Reproduction Preferences Additional InformationReproductive data concerning Magelona mirabilis is scarce (Fiege et al., 2000). The data that is available suggests that the reproductive period in Magelona mirabilis varies with geographic location and the breeding season of many polychaetes is known to vary with latitude. Fiege et al. (2000) reported males with sperm masses in St. Andrews, Scotland, in March and females with eggs in Berwick-upon-Tweed in March whilst egg bearing females in Lancieux, France, were recorded in May.
It is generally agreed that Magelona mirabilis displays characteristics typical of an r-selected species, i.e. rapid reproduction, short life span and high dispersal potential (Krönke, 1990; Niermann et al., 1990), and is characteristic of shallow, disturbed, non-successional habitats (M. Kendall, pers. comm.).
Reproduction References Hayward & Ryland, 1995b, Fish & Fish, 1996, Fiege et al., 2000, Kuhl, 1972, Probert, 1981, Bosselmann, 1989, Kröncke, 1990, Niermann et al., 1990,
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