Marenzelleria neglecta (red gilled mud worm)
- Summary of Invasiveness
- Taxonomic Tree
- Notes on Taxonomy and Nomenclature
- Distribution Table
- History of Introduction and Spread
- Risk of Introduction
- Habitat List
- Biology and Ecology
- Water Tolerances
- Notes on Natural Enemies
- Means of Movement and Dispersal
- Pathway Vectors
- Impact Summary
- Environmental Impact
- Risk and Impact Factors
- Uses List
- Detection and Inspection
- Similarities to Other Species/Conditions
- Prevention and Control
- Gaps in Knowledge/Research Needs
- Links to Websites
- Distribution Maps
Don't need the entire report?
Generate a print friendly version containing only the sections you need.Generate report
PicturesTop of page
IdentityTop of page
Preferred Scientific Name
- Marenzelleria neglecta Sikorski and Bick, 2004
Preferred Common Name
- red gilled mud worm
Other Scientific Names
- Marenzelleria cf. viridis Verrill, 1873
- Marenzelleria Type II Bastrop et al., 1997
Local Common Names
- Estonia: virgiina keeritsuss; virgiinia korgitsuss
- Finland: amerikansukasmato
- Lithuania: marenceliarija
- Netherlands: oostzeegroenworm
- Poland: rogoza amerykanska
- Sweden: havsborstmask
Summary of InvasivenessTop of page
The native range of M. neglecta is the Atlantic coast of the North America (Sikorski and Bick, 2004). The species is relatively invasive. In 1985 the non-indigenous polychaete was first found in the Baltic Sea. The potential vector of dispersal was ships’ ballast water. Within the first five years M. neglecta became established across almost the whole Baltic Sea area. Currently, the species spreads rapidly and dominates in many habitats (Bastrop and Blank, 2006). M. neglecta may also co-occur with Marenzelleria viridis, e.g. in the Elbe estuary, North Sea.
Taxonomic TreeTop of page
- Domain: Eukaryota
- Kingdom: Metazoa
- Phylum: Annelida
- Class: Polychaeta
- Order: Spionida
- Family: Spionidae
- Genus: Marenzelleria
- Species: Marenzelleria neglecta
Notes on Taxonomy and NomenclatureTop of page
Prior to the publication of Sikorski and Bick (2004) no distinction between Marenzelleria neglecta and Marenzelleria viridis had been made. Thus, the earlier notes on M. viridis may refer to both M. viridis and M. neglecta. These species are very similar and only large worms can be identified to the species level. However, only genetic analysis and autecological investigations confirm the taxonomical identity of the species.
DescriptionTop of page
M. neglecta has long worm-like greenish body with rows of short chaeta along both sides but without dorsal scales. The anterior end is with various long appendages with more than one pair of long tentacles or gills on the anterior end starting from the first setiger. There are hooked chaetae in both notopodia and neuropodia beginning far backwards of chaetal segments XX. In I or I-II some chaetae chair are considerably longer than the rest. Numerous small appendages surround anus. M. neglecta can be identified by the combination of the length of nuchal organs (up to setiger 4) and the number of branchiate setigers in relation to the total number of setigers (which is about one quarter to one third) (Sikorski and Bick, 2004).
DistributionTop of page
M. neglecta occurs in marine and brackish waters. It inhabits vertical mucus-lined burrows (down to 40 cm in depth), feeding on sediment particles and meiobenthic and planktonic organisms (Sikorski and Bick, 2004).
Distribution TableTop of page
The distribution in this summary table is based on all the information available. When several references are cited, they may give conflicting information on the status. Further details may be available for individual references in the Distribution Table Details section which can be selected by going to Generate Report.
|Continent/Country/Region||Distribution||Last Reported||Origin||First Reported||Invasive||Reference||Notes|
|Atlantic, Northeast||Widespread||Introduced||1983||Invasive||Essink and Kleef, 1988||First recorded in Germany and the Netherlands|
|Canada||Present||Present based on regional distribution.|
|-Northwest Territories||Widespread||Native||Sikorski and Bick, 2004||Tuktoyaktuk Harbour|
|USA||Present||Present based on regional distribution.|
|-California||Widespread||Native||Sikorski and Bick, 2004|
|-Georgia||Widespread||Native||Sikorski and Bick, 2004||Ogeechee River|
|-Maryland||Widespread||Native||Sikorski and Bick, 2004|
|-North Carolina||Widespread||Native||Sikorski and Bick, 2004||Currituck Sound|
|-North Dakota||Widespread||Native||Sikorski and Bick, 2004||Durham, Fox Point|
|-Virginia||Widespread||Native||Sikorski and Bick, 2004||Chester River, Chesapeake Bay|
|Estonia||Widespread||Introduced||1991||Invasive||Kotta and Kotta, 1998||Gulf of Riga, Vainameri Archipelago Sea, Gulf of Finland, Baltic Proper|
|Finland||Widespread||Introduced||1990||Invasive||Norkko et al., 1993||Gulf of Finland, Gulf of Bothnia|
|Germany||Widespread||Introduced||1983||Invasive||Essink and Kleef, 1988|
|Latvia||Widespread||Introduced||1988||Invasive||Lagzdins and Pallo, 1994||Baltic Proper, Gulf of Riga|
|Lithuania||Widespread||Introduced||1988||Invasive||Olenin and Chubarova, 1992; Zmudzinski et al., 1993||Curonian Lagoon, Baltic Proper|
|Netherlands||Widespread||Introduced||1983||Invasive||Essink and Kleef, 1988|
|Poland||Widespread||Introduced||1988||Invasive||Gruszka, 1991||Baltic Proper, Szczecin Lagoon, Vistula Lagoon|
|Russian Federation||Present||Present based on regional distribution.|
|-Central Russia||Widespread||Introduced||1996||Invasive||Maximov and Panov, 2002||Luga Bay, Neva Bay|
|Sweden||Widespread||Introduced||1990||Invasive||Jansson, 1994||Baltic Proper|
History of Introduction and SpreadTop of page
The first record of M. neglecta on the European coast is dated 1983. The species was caught in the Ems estuary between Germany and The Netherlands (Essink and Kleef, 1988). M. neglecta quickly invaded nearly all European intertidal and estuarine areas. In 1985 the species was recorded in the German Darb-Zingst bodden chain, Baltic Sea (Bick and Burkhardt, 1989). In a few years it was discovered in Poland (Gruszka, 1991), Lithuania (Zmudzinski et al., 1993) and the whole Gulf of Riga (both Latvian and Estonian coasts) (Lagzdins and Pallo, 1994, database of the Estonian Marine Institute). In 1990 it reached the Swedish coast (Jansson, 1994) and was observed in Tvärminne, Finland (Norkko et al., 1993).
Risk of IntroductionTop of page
Earlier studies indicate that the species is very invasive and able to spread large distances and form permanent populations. During the initial stages of introduction the species is often present in high abundance. After expansion during the first decade of invasion, the density of M. neglecta declines in most habitats except for river estuaries and deeper seas. Nevertheless, the larvae of this polychaete are today the most prevalent taxa in meroplankton and have, in general, doubled the total meroplankton abundance (Kotta et al., 2008).
HabitatTop of page
M. neglecta and M. viridis share habitats in the Atlantic, but diverge in their salinity preferences: M. viridis does not occur at salinities below 16‰, whereas M. neglecta prefers salinities between 0.5 and 10‰ (Sikorski and Bick, 2004). M. neglecta is an estuarine species which inhabits sandy and muddy sediments (Zettler, 1997). In shallower areas < 10 m) it prefers sand or gravel bottoms with higher abundance in more densely vegetated areas. Deeper down (> 10 m) M. neglecta is confined to silty clay substrate. It can cope with low oxygen levels and withstands salinity down to 0.5‰ (Fritzsche and von Oertzen, 1995). Successful reproduction however cannot take place at salinities below 5‰ (Norkko et al., 1993; Bochert et al., 1994).
Habitat ListTop of page
|Coastal areas||Principal habitat||Harmful (pest or invasive)|
|Coastal areas||Principal habitat||Natural|
|Mud flats||Principal habitat||Natural|
|Mud flats||Principal habitat||Productive/non-natural|
|Inshore marine||Principal habitat||Natural|
|Inshore marine||Principal habitat||Productive/non-natural|
|Pelagic zone (offshore)||Principal habitat||Natural|
|Pelagic zone (offshore)||Principal habitat||Productive/non-natural|
Biology and EcologyTop of page
M. neglecta has a life span of approximately three years. M. neglecta is benthic as an adult and has pelagic larvae. Many individuals reach sexual maturity after one year. Benthic adult worms inhabit vertical mucus-lined burrows and feed on sediment particles, planctonic, meiobenthic organisms and resuspended organic material (Daunys et al., 1999).
ClimateTop of page
|Cs - Warm temperate climate with dry summer||Preferred||Warm average temp. > 10°C, Cold average temp. > 0°C, dry summers|
|Ds - Continental climate with dry summer||Preferred||Continental climate with dry summer (Warm average temp. > 10°C, coldest month < 0°C, dry summers)|
Water TolerancesTop of page
|Parameter||Minimum Value||Maximum Value||Typical Value||Status||Life Stage||Notes|
|Depth (m b.s.l.)||0.5||30||Optimum||0-92 tolerated (Olenin and Chubarov, 1994; Norkko et al., 1995; Database of the Estonian Marine Institute)|
|Salinity (part per thousand)||5||10||Optimum||0.5-10 tolerated although cannot reproduce at salinities <5|
Notes on Natural EnemiesTop of page
Several benthophagous fish species feed on M. neglecta (Olenin, 2006). The survival of M. neglecta is significantly reduced by the presence of Macoma balthica (Kotta et al., 2004). Field data agrees with experimental findings that although the negative effect of M. balthica on M. neglecta was observed in pristine conditions, it was not observed in eutrophicated areas (Kotta et al., 2006).
Means of Movement and DispersalTop of page
Distribution of the genus Marenzelleria is restricted to the northern hemisphere. The native range of M. neglecta is the Atlantic coast of the North America (Sikorski and Bick, 2004). Within its native range and invaded habitats the species disperses by means of larvae. Ballast water is the most likely vector of its intercontinental dispersal.
Natural Dispersal (Non-Biotic)
M. neglecta is benthic as an adult and has pelagic larvae. The distribution mainly takes place via larval development when the individuals can be transported by currents over hundreds of km.
The species has been introduced to the Baltic and North Seas by means of shipping (ballast water) (Bastrop et al., 1998). The species was most likely transported as larvae and/or adults in ballast water. This assumption is supported by collection of specimens on a plankton tow in a North American estuary (Maciolek, 1984). Shipping may influence the spread of M. neglecta although its spread is mostly associated with dispersal and development of planktonic larvae which can also be transported in ballast waters of ships.
Pathway VectorsTop of page
|Ship ballast water and sediment||planktonic larvae, benthic adults||Yes|
Impact SummaryTop of page
ImpactTop of page
The species has a moderate impact on the recipient communities both in shallow and deep water habitats; however, severe economic and social impacts are not known.
Environmental ImpactTop of page
M. neglecta is known to enhance the content of sediment chlorophyll a and reduce growth and survival of the polychaete Hediste diversicolor and growth of the amphipod Monoporeia affinis. The survival of M. neglecta was significantly reduced by the presence of Macoma balthica. Field data agrees with the experimental findings that M. affinis was not found even at moderate densities of M. neglecta, and M. affinis has not recovered in areas with a high density of M. neglecta. However, the negative effects of M. balthica on M. neglecta was only observed in pristine conditions and not in eutrophicated areas (Kotta et al., 2004; 2006). Higher sediment chlorophyll a content in the treatments with M. neglecta indicates higher biodeposition and/or bioturbating activity of the polychaete as compared to the native fauna. According to Pelegri and Blackburn (1995), polychatetes significantly accelerate nitrogen remineralisation and transformation processes within the sediment. As M. neglecta burrows much deeper and more actively than the native polychaetes the amount of reworked sediments, i.e. the availability of nutrients to microalgal growth, is higher in the presence of M. neglecta. Other known effects are the increased benthic production and higher burrowing activity that improves oxygen circulation in the sediment. The introduction of the species has resulted in changes of the diet of benthic fish (Database of the Estonian Marine Institute). Impact on Habitats M. neglecta competes with native benthic macrofauna for food and space. Being numerically dominant it can change the structure of a native benthic community. The burrowing activity of this worm has a high impact on fluid-exchange rates between bottom water and sediments, especially in muddy sediments. The burrow walls make good substrates for aerobic degradation of organic matter (HELCOM, 1996; Olenin, 2006). Impact on Biodiversity M. neglecta is a deep burrowing deposit feeder and thus represents a new function in some recipient areas (e.g. the northern Baltic Sea). Experimental studies have shown that M. neglecta negatively influence the native polychaete species Hediste diversicolor and the amphipod Monoporeia affinis. Recent observational studies also demonstrate an inverse abundance and biomass relationship between M. neglecta and H. diversicolor (Kotta et al., 2004). This indicates that the species may strongly affect the composition of native benthic communities and influence the balance of organisms in a particular ecosystem (Kotta et al., 2001; Kotta and Olafsson, 2003; Kotta et al., 2004). However, the negative effects are likely to decrease with the increasing density of the adult specimens of the native bivalve Macoma balthica. Competitive superiority of M. balthica over M. neglecta is likely due to the more efficient feeding regime of the bivalve (Kotta et al., 2004; Kotta, 2005).
Higher sediment chlorophyll a content in the treatments with M. neglecta indicates higher biodeposition and/or bioturbating activity of the polychaete as compared to the native fauna. According to Pelegri and Blackburn (1995), polychatetes significantly accelerate nitrogen remineralisation and transformation processes within the sediment. As M. neglecta burrows much deeper and more actively than the native polychaetes the amount of reworked sediments, i.e. the availability of nutrients to microalgal growth, is higher in the presence of M. neglecta.
Other known effects are the increased benthic production and higher burrowing activity that improves oxygen circulation in the sediment. The introduction of the species has resulted in changes of the diet of benthic fish (Database of the Estonian Marine Institute).
Impact on Habitats
M. neglecta competes with native benthic macrofauna for food and space. Being numerically dominant it can change the structure of a native benthic community. The burrowing activity of this worm has a high impact on fluid-exchange rates between bottom water and sediments, especially in muddy sediments. The burrow walls make good substrates for aerobic degradation of organic matter (HELCOM, 1996; Olenin, 2006).
Impact on Biodiversity
M. neglecta is a deep burrowing deposit feeder and thus represents a new function in some recipient areas (e.g. the northern Baltic Sea). Experimental studies have shown that M. neglecta negatively influence the native polychaete species Hediste diversicolor and the amphipod Monoporeia affinis. Recent observational studies also demonstrate an inverse abundance and biomass relationship between M. neglecta and H. diversicolor (Kotta et al., 2004). This indicates that the species may strongly affect the composition of native benthic communities and influence the balance of organisms in a particular ecosystem (Kotta et al., 2001; Kotta and Olafsson, 2003; Kotta et al., 2004). However, the negative effects are likely to decrease with the increasing density of the adult specimens of the native bivalve Macoma balthica. Competitive superiority of M. balthica over M. neglecta is likely due to the more efficient feeding regime of the bivalve (Kotta et al., 2004; Kotta, 2005).
Risk and Impact FactorsTop of page Invasiveness
- Proved invasive outside its native range
- Has a broad native range
- Abundant in its native range
- Highly adaptable to different environments
- Is a habitat generalist
- Pioneering in disturbed areas
- Highly mobile locally
- Fast growing
- Has high reproductive potential
- Altered trophic level
- Ecosystem change/ habitat alteration
- Modification of natural benthic communities
- Modification of nutrient regime
- Modification of successional patterns
- Reduced native biodiversity
- Threat to/ loss of native species
- Competition - monopolizing resources
- Competition - smothering
- Rapid growth
- Highly likely to be transported internationally accidentally
- Difficult to identify/detect as a commodity contaminant
- Difficult to identify/detect in the field
- Difficult/costly to control
Uses ListTop of page
Animal feed, fodder, forage
Detection and InspectionTop of page
Standard benthic invertebrate sampling methods (e.g. using various benthic grabs or corers) may be used. Specific methods not known.
Similarities to Other Species/ConditionsTop of page
M. neglecta is particularly difficult to distinguish from M. viridis. Both species may co-occur (e.g. in the Elbe estuary, North Sea) and only large worms can be reliably identified. Only genetic analysis and autecological investigations may provide solutions to this problem (Bick and Zettler, 1997; Sikorski and Bick, 2004).
Prevention and ControlTop of page
Gaps in Knowledge/Research NeedsTop of page
There is a need for better taxonomic understanding of the species.
ReferencesTop of page
Bick A; Burckhardt R, 1989. First record of Marenzelleria viridis (Polychaeta, Spionidae) in the Baltic Sea, with a key to the Spionidae of the Baltic Sea. Mitteilungen aus dem Zoologischen Museum in Berlin, 65:237-247.
Bochert R; Bick A; Zettler M; Arndt E-A, 1994. Marenzelleria viridis (Verrill, 1873) (Polychaeta, Spionidae), an invader in the benthic community in Baltic coastal inlets - investigations of reproduction. In: Proceeding of 13th Symposium of the Baltic Marine Biologists, Riga, Latvia.
Daunys D; Zettler ML; Gollasch S, 1999. Marenzelleria cf. viridis (Verrill, 1873) Annelida, Polychaeta, Spionidae. Exotics across the ocean. In: Case histories on introduced species [ed. by Gollasch S, Minchin D, Rosental H, Voigt M] University of Kiel, Germany: Verlag, 61-67.
Essink K; Kleef HL, 1988. Marenzelleria viridis (Verrill, 1873) (Polychaeta: Spionidae): a new record from the Ems estuary (The Netherlands/Federal Republic of Germany). Zoologische Bijdragen, 38:1-13.
Fritzsche D; Oertzen JAvon, 1995. Metabolic responses to changing environmental conditions in the brackish water - polychaetes Marenzelleria viridis and Hediste diversicolor. Marine Biology, 121:693-699.
Gruszka P, 1991. Marenzelleria viridis (Verrill, 1873) (Polychaeta, Spionidae) - a new component of shallow water benthic community in the Southern Baltic. In: Proc. 11th Baltic Mar. Biol. Symposium, Szczecin, Poland, 1989, 65.
Kotta J; Kotta I, 1998. Distribution and invasion ecology of Marenzelleria viridis (Verrill) in the Estonian coastal waters. Proceedings of the Estonian Academy of Sciences. Biology. Ecology, 47:210-217.
Kotta J; Kotta I; Simm M; Lankov A; Lauringson V; Põllumäe A; Ojaveer H, 2006. Ecological consequences of biological invasions: three invertebrate case studies in the north-eastern Baltic Sea. Helgoland Marine Research, 60(2):106-112. http://www.springerlink.com/(vbc5i445bmwdkp45y4ynpj45)/app/home/contribution.asp?referrer=parent&backto=issue,6,13;journal,2,169;linkingpublicationresults,1:103796,1
Kotta J; Lauringson V; Martin G; Simm M; Kotta I; Herkül K; Ojaveer H, 2008. Gulf of Riga and Pärnu Bay. In: Ecology of Baltic Coastal waters [ed. by Schiewer U] Heidleberg, Germany: Springer, 217-243.
Kotta J; Ólafsson E, 2003. Competition for food between the introduced exotic polychaete Marenzelleria viridis and the resident native amphipod Monoporeia affinis in the Baltic Sea. Journal of Sea Research, 50(1):27-35.
Kotta J; Orav H; Sandberg-Kilpi E, 2001. Ecological consequence of the introduction of the polychaete Marenzelleria viridis into a shallow water biotope of the northern Baltic Sea. Journal of Sea Research, 46:273-280.
Kotta J; Orav-Kotta H; Sandberg-Kilpi E, 2004. Changes in the feeding behaviour of benthic invertebrates: effect of the introduced polychaete Marenzelleria viridis on the Baltic clam Macoma balthica. Proceedings of the Estonian Academy of Sciences. Biology. Ecology, 53:269-275.
Maciolek NJ, 1984. New records and species of Marenzelleria Mesnil and Scolecolepides Ehlers (Polychaeta: Spionidae) from north-eastern North America. In: Proceedings of the first international Polychaete Conference, Australia, Sydney [ed. by Hutchings PA], 48-62.
Norkko A; Bonsdorff E; Boström C, 1993. Observations of the polychaete Marenzelleria viridis (Verrill) on a shallow sandy bottom on the South coast of Finland. Memoranda Societatis pro Fauna et Flora Fennica, 69:112-113.
Olenin S; Chubarova S, 1992. Recent introduction of the North American spionid polychaete Marenzelleria viridis (Verrill, 1873) in the coastal areas of the southeastern part of the Baltic area. In: International Symposium - Function of Coastal Ecosystems in Various Geographical Regions, Gdansk University, Poland.
Stigzelius J; Laine A; Rissanen J; Andersin A-B; Ilus E, 1997. The introduction of Marenzelleria viridis (Polychaeta, Spionidae) into the Gulf of Finland and the Gulf of Bothnia (northern Baltic Sea). Annales zoologici fennici, 34:205-212.
Zettler ML; Bochert R; Bick A, 1994. Röhrenbau und Vertikalverteilung von Marenzelleria viridis (Polychaeta: Spionidae) in einem inneren Küstengewässer der südlichen Ostsee. Rostocker Meeresbiologische Beiträge, 2:215-225.
Zmudzinski L; Chubarova S; Dobrovolski Z; Gruszka P; Fail I; Olenin S; Wolnomiejski N, 1993. Expansion of the spionid polychaete Marenzelleria viridis in the southeasternpart of the Baltic Sea. In: Proceeding of 13th Symp. Balt. Mar. Biol., Riga, Latvia.
ContributorsTop of page
22/08/09 Original text by:
Merli Pärnoja, Tallinn University, Estonia
Jonne Kotta, Estonian Marine Institute, University of Tartu, M Mäealuse 10a, Tallinn 12618, Estonia
Distribution MapsTop of page
Unsupported Web Browser:
One or more of the features that are needed to show you the maps functionality are not available in the web browser that you are using.
Please consider upgrading your browser to the latest version or installing a new browser.
More information about modern web browsers can be found at http://browsehappy.com/