BIOTIC Species Information for Aphrodita aculeata
Researched byLizzie Tyler Data supplied byUniversity of Sheffield
Refereed byThis information is not refereed.
General Biology
Growth formVermiform segmented
Feeding methodPredator
Environmental positionInfaunal
Typical food typesOther polychaetes (see additional information below). HabitFree living
BioturbatorDiffusive mixing FlexibilityHigh (>45 degrees)
FragilityIntermediate SizeMedium(11-20 cm)
Height Growth RateInsufficient information
Adult dispersal potential1km-10km DependencyIndependent
General Biology Additional InformationLittle information on the biology of this species was found. However, a detailed description of its anatomy is given by Fordham (1925).

Mettam (1980) found that Aphrodita aculeata was an active predator feeding primarily on other worms, including both large active polychaetes and sedentary polychaetes. For example, the gut contents of Aphrodita aculeata were reported to contain the remains of Pectinaria and Lumbriconereis; polynoids, nereids, sabellids and terebellid polychaetes; nemerteans, and very young crabs and hermit crabs. In laboratory experiments, Aphrodita aculeata did not feed unless buried and only attacked prey overnight. In the laboratory it fed on Nephtys hombergi, Hediste diversicolor and Nereis virens. Prey was swallowed whole, head first, passing slowly into the intestine, and its remains being deposited in a faecal pellet in the same order, i.e. head first (Mettam, 1980). Swallowing large prey is a laboured process (Mettam, 1980), e.g. the king rag Nereis virens, is about three times the length of the sea mouse. The swallowing of Nereis virens by the sea mouse was likened "to a hedgehog swallowing a snake" (Gunnar Thorson pers comm. cited in Mettam, 1980).

Mettam (1971) suggested that the wide body shape of Aphrodite aculeata was an adaptation to the 'slow crawling' mechanism of locomotion found in other polychaetes. Forward propulsion is achieved by movement of individual parapodia in a 'fast stepping pattern' rather than the sinusoidal undulations characteristic of many other polychaete worms. For an illustration and detail of the musculature and mechanism involved see Mettam (1971).

Aphroditoidea are known to harbour a variety of organisms under their scales and chaetae. Aphrodita aculeata was reported to host several entoprocts, e.g. Loxosomella claviformis, Loxosomella fauveli and Loxosomella obesa (Chambers & Muir, 1997).

Biology References Mettam, 1971, Mettam, 1980, Fordham, 1925, Rouse & Pleijel, 2001, Hayward & Ryland, 1990, Julie Bremner, unpub data, Chambers & Garwood, 1992,
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