Polychaete Key

For Chesapeake Bay and Coastal Virginia

  • Polychaete Worm   Diopatra cuprea, a species of polychaete from Chesapeake Bay.   Photo by Rochelle Seitz.
  • Polychaete Worm
    Worm Tubes   An image of the sediment surface from Central Bransfield Strait at 2000 meters depth. The sea bed is covered by “mud balls” made by a small, sediment-dwelling polychaete worm. The polychaete crawling along the surface is about 10 cm long. Area of image is about 0.8 meter squared.   © Robert J. Diaz.
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Polychaetes are a class of annelid worms, generally marine, with more than 10,000 species. Common representatives include the lugworm (Arenicola marina) and the sandworm or clam worm Nereis. Polychaetes are important members of benthic ecosystems, serving as food for other organisms and playing a key role in mixing sediments. This key is designed to help identify polychaete species in Chesapeake Bay and coastal Virginia.

The key is available in its entirety in Adobe Acrobat (.pdf) format (5.3 mb). Download Acrobat Reader.

For easier viewing, the document has also been divided into several smaller files:

  1. Introduction
  2. Ampharetidae, Amphinomidae, Aphroditidae, Arabellidae, Arenicolidae, Capitellidae
  3. Chaetopteridae, Chrysopetalidae, Cirratulidae, Cossuridae, Dorvilleidae, Eunicidae, Flabelligeridae, Glyceridae, Goniadidae
  4. Hesionidae, Lumbrineridae, Lysaretidae, Magelonidae, Maldanidae, Nephtyidae, Nereidae
  5. Onuphidae, Opheliidae, Orbiniidae, Oweniidae, Paraonidae, Pectinariidae, Phyllodocidae, Pilargidae, Polynoidae
  6. Sabellariidae, Sabellidae, Scalibregmidae, Serpulidae, Siglionidae, Spionidae, Syllidae, Terebellidae, Trichobranchidae
  7. References