Ficopomatus biology & ecology

Harry A. ten Hove hove at
Fri Feb 13 04:53:21 EST 1998

>I am looking for any references (Biology and ecological preferences) on
>the Serpulidae polychaete : Ficopomatus enigmaticus (Fauvel 1923) (syn.
>Mercierella enigmaticus)
>Could somebody help me on that species?

>Jacques GRALL

I pasted below my letter:    

From: hove at (Harry A. ten Hove)
Subject: RE: Fico.enigmaticus

Dear Linda,

>So Ficopomatus is found in salinities ranging from brackish to 55 '%'?
>That's quite a broad salinity tolerance!

Yes indeed.

>Jim Carlton and I are interested in writing a paper synthesizing all of
>the work on the genus. We are particularily interested in the zoogeography
>of the Ficopmatus enigmaticus, and in tracking down it's actual area of
>origin. Would this overlap with what you are doing too much? Any thoughts,
>papers we might look at? We are quite taken with this worm.

If people are enthusiastic about a subject, one should stimulate them
rather than discourage. Nevertheless, I have to utter a word of caution.
About 20 years ago a student of mine tried to synthesize the then known
papers on Ficopomatus (at that time still Mercierella), but gave up after
about 2 months, although I had almost all papers at hand (it thus was not
the practical problem of obtaining articles from relatively unknown
Russian or Spanish journals). Since that time the problem has simplified
to a certain degree, ten Hove & Weerdenburg at least sorted out the
taxonomic mess and made clear that F.enigmaticus is not likely to occur in
tropical waters. Nevertheless, (few) new papers have appeared reporting
F.enigmaticus from these unlikely habitats, so there still is some
confusion to be sorted out when compiling data. All together my files now
contain 350 papers mentioning F.enigmaticus (the previous estimate of 250
was a typing error discovered thanks to the fact that you were asking

The last distributional map of Ficopomatus to my knowledge is: Hove, H.A.
Ten, 1979a.- Tube worm. Yearb.Sci.Techn., McGraw-Hill, 1979: 400-402, 3

A thesis you should try to obtain if pushing on with Ficopomatus is David
Dixon's thesis, partly published in his two later papers: Dixon, D.R.,
1977.- The energetics of Mercierella enigmatica Fauvel. Thesis, Univ.of
London, 494 pp., 89 figs., 41 tabs. [mimeogr.] Dixon, D.R., 1980.- The
energetics of tube production by Mercierella enigmatica (Polychaeta:
Serpulidae). J.mar.biol.Ass.UK 60: 655-659, 2 figs. Dixon, D.R., 1981.-
Reproductive biology of the serpulid Ficopomatus (Mercierella) enigmatica
in the Thames estuary, S.E.England. J.mar.biol.Ass.UK 61: 805-815, 6

A must too is:
Vuillemin, S., 1965.- Contribution a l'etude ecologique du lac de Tunis.
Biologie de Mercierella enigmatica Fauvel. Thesis, Paris, A 4622 (5469),
554 pp., illustrated.

The last known hypothesis on the origin of enigmaticus is: Zibrowius, H.,
1992.- Ongoing modification of the Mediterranean marine fauna and flora
by the establishment of exotic species. Mesogee 51: 83-107. Interestingly,
and probably correctly he reaches exactly the opposite conclusion as
vented by: Williams, R.J., & E.J. van der Wal & J. Story, 1986.- Draft
inventory of introduced marine organisms. Austr.Mar.Sci.Bull.61: 12

If, after reading the above papers, you still want to go ahead, I might
send you a copy of my handwritten systemcards, mentioning author and year
only. I do not have the time to copy all 350 full references,
unfortunately these are only partially on disc yet.

Wormly, Harry

Harry A. ten Hove
Institute for Systematics and Population Biology
Zoological Museum, University of Amsterdam
POB 94766, 1090 GT AMSTERDAM

TEL. 3120 5256906
FAX. 3120 5255402
<hove at>

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