Conserved and protected worms

Salma Hassen Shalla S.H.Shalla at
Wed Apr 26 17:13:01 EST 2000

Sabellaria alveolata (the honeycomb worm) is the subject of a biodiversity 
action plan in the UK, where it is at it's northern limit.  Also, reefs of this 
worm occur in a number of SACs (Special Area for Conservation, 
designated under the European Habitats Directive) and should thus be 
afforded some protection.  It is sensitive to a number of factors including 
(within Britain) cold winters, and changes in sediment supply, but is not 
rare or, to any great degree, endangered.  Its sublittoral relative Sabellaria 
spinulosa is not, as far as I am aware, the direct subject of any formalised 
actions but is known or strongly suspected to have been wiped out in a 
number of areas of the southern North Sea and possibly the Irish Sea. 
Again sublittoral reefs of this worm are found in at least one SAC and 
should thus be afforded some protection.   

Reefs of the tubeworm Serpula vermicularis, known from very few locations 
(only 1 site in Britain) and lost in recent years from a sideshoot of Loch 
Sween, are the subject of some good work by Colin Moore at Heriot Watt 
University, and others.  Again not formally protected, however, so far as I 
am aware.  

Sabellaria spinulosa and Serpula vermicularis are both, of course, 
widespread and abundant worms but only rarely form massive reefs.  


Terry Holt & Salma Shalla

s.h.shalla at
Port Erin Marine Lab
Isle of Man
tel: 01624-831018

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