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Heteromastus filiformis species complex
Image courtesy of © Hans Hillewaert through Wikimedia commons and the CC BY-SA 4.0 License
Heteromastus filiformis species complex
Taxonomic Group: Annelids-Polychaetes


Heteromastus filiformis belongs to the Capitellidae family, a group of earthworm-like burrowing polychaetes. Populations are known from many regions around the world, spanning from Arctic to tropical waters. High variation in the environmental conditions where populations are noted suggests that H. filiformis is likely a complex of cryptic species. However, molecular studies are needed to untangle the taxonomy, biogeography, and invasion history of this group. It was described from the Mediterranean coast of France in 1864 and reported throughout the East Coast of North America (Maine to North Carolina) in 1870s-80s. Its more recent collection on the US West coast is indicative of an introduction. Possible vectors include transport of larvae, or suspended adults in ballast water, and transport with plantings of Eastern Oysters (Crassostrea virginica). No ecological or economic impacts are currently known for this species complex.

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Fofonoff PW, Ruiz GM, Steves B, Simkanin C, & Carlton JT. .
National Exotic Marine and Estuarine Species Information System.
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Marine Invasions Lab
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