BIOTIC Species Information for Capitella capitata
Researched byLizzie Tyler Data supplied byUniversity of Sheffield
Refereed byThis information is not refereed.
General Biology
Growth formCylindrical
Vermiform segmented
Feeding methodSurface deposit feeder
Sub-surface deposit feeder
Environmental positionInfaunal
Typical food typesMicro-organisms, phytoplankton and detritus HabitBurrow dwelling
BioturbatorNot researched FlexibilityHigh (>45 degrees)
FragilityFragile SizeSmall-medium(3-10cm)
HeightNot relevant Growth Rate30 mm / year
Adult dispersal potential100-1000m DependencyIndependent
General Biology Additional InformationAbundance
  • In non-polluted areas, densities can exceed 250,000 ind/m² (Barnes, 1994). In polluted sites in Barcelona, densities of 440 000 ind/m² (Mendez et al., 1997) and 750 000 ind/m² (Sarda et al. ,1995) have been recorded. Tsutsumi (1990) recorded a maximum density of 200 000 ind/m² in sediment enriched with the green alga Ulva pertusa. Mendez et al. (1997) suggested that Capitella capitata is able to produce many individuals when organic supply is high enough to feed all the population.
  • Petraitis (1991) studied sex ratios in Capitella capitata (species type 1) and found that, although large populations contain males, females and occasionally hermaphrodites, at low density or in groups with a females-biased sex ratio males develop into hermaphrodites. Petraitis (1991) also noted that most homogametic juveniles become females if reared alone, but males if reared with other conspecifics.
Warren (1976) estimated growth rate to be 30mm/year.

  • Capitella capitata is a non-selective subsurface deposit feeder (Fauchald & Jumars, 1979), feeding on micro-organisms, phytoplankton and detritus.
  • Lopes et al. (2000) found that an increase in abundance of macroalgae resulted in a substantial increase in the abundance of Capitella capitata. Furthermore, Qian & Chia (1991) found that, in Canada, individuals fed on the bull kelp Nereocystis luetkeana or the green alga Ulva lactuca grew much faster and attained a larger body size than those fed on the kelp Macrocystis integrifolia or seagrass Zostera marina.
  • Qian & Chia (1991b) found that larvae grew faster and had shorter pelagic periods when fed with phytoplankton at concentrations of 10x and 25x ambient concentrations.
  • Fauchald & Jumars (1979) reviewed feeding of Capitellids. Feeding takes place by everting a papillose, sac-like pharynx. The pharyngeal epithelium secretes a mucro-polysaccharide (Michel, 1967) apparently used to agglutinate sand grains, and possibly to select organic particles of low specific gravity. All capitellids are considered non-selective (Fauchald & Jumars, 1979).
  • Capitella capitata can take up dissolved primary amines from the surrounding medium (Stephens, 1975).
Biology References Fauchald & Jumars, 1979, Barnes, 1994, Mendez et al., 1997, Sarda et al., 1995, Tsutsumi, 1990, Petraitis, 1991, Warren, 1976, Qian & Chia, 1991, Qian & Chia, 1991b, Michel, 1967, Stephens, 1975, Lopes et al., 2000, Hayward & Ryland, 1990,
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