Scientia Marina, Vol 80, No 4 (2016)

Laboratory development of Capitella sp. A (Annelida: Capitellidae) from a NW Mediterranean fish farm reared under different organic enrichment conditions

Nuria Méndez
Unidad Académica Mazatlán. Instituto de Ciencias del Mar y Limnología, Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México, Mexico


The polychaete Capitella sp. A, collected in a NW Mediterranean fish farm (Les Cases d’Alcanar, Tarragona, Spain), was cultured for the first time under experimental conditions with different organically enriched sediments to study the differences in development and growth. The species proved to be dioecious and had lecithotrophic development. Sizes of individuals and duration of the developmental stages varied widely, as in most known species of Capitella. In organically enriched sediments, the juveniles were seen one day after hatching and immature females (i.e. with yellow ovaries) after 52 days. Females may reach maturity (i.e. show white intra-coelomic oocytes) at about 64 days old, and the species had a life span of 167 days. According to its development, Capitella sp. A differs from all known lecithotrophic species of the genus. The results also proved that organically enrichment enhanced growth and survival, whereas lowering food can cause morphological alterations such as reduced size in male genital spines.


polychaete; Capitella capitate; development; reproduction; organic enrichment; sibling species

Full Text:



Adkins M., Schulze A. 2011. Development of Capitella sp. G from Galveston Bay, Texas. Mar. Biol. Res. 7: 202-207.

Blake J.A., Grassle J.P., Eckelbarger K.J. 2009. Capitella teleta, a new species designation for the opportunistic and experimental Capitella sp. I, with a review of the literature for confirmed records. Zoosymposia 2: 25-53.

Brown J.R., Gowen R.J., McLusky D.S. 1987. The effect of salmon farming on the benthos of a Scottish sea loch. J. Exp. Mar. Biol. Ecol. 109: 39-51.

Eckelbarger K.J., Grassle J.P. 1983. Ultrastructural differences in the eggs and ovarian follicle cells of Capitella (Polychaeta) sibling species. Biol. Bull. 165: 379-393.

Forbes T.L., Lopez G.R. 1990. The effect of food concentration, body size, and environmental oxygen tension on the growth of the deposit-feeding polychaete, Capitella capitata species 1. Limnol. Oceanogr. 35: 1535-1544.

Forbes T.L., Forbes V.E., Depledge M.H. 1994. Individual physiological responses to environmental hypoxia and organic enrichment: implications for early soft-bottom community succession. J. Mar. Res. 52: 1081-1100.

Gamenick I. 1997. Ökophysiologische und enzymatische Differenzierung verschiedener Geschwisterarten des Capitella capitata – Komplexes (Annelida, Polychaeta). PhD thesis. Faculty of Biology. University of Hamburg, 112 pp.

Gamenick I., Abbiati M., Giere O. 1998. Field distribution and sulphide tolerance of Capitella capitata (Annelida: Polychaeta) around shallow water hydrothermal vents off Milos (Aegean Sea). A new sibling species? Mar. Biol. 130: 447-453.

George J.D. 1984. The behaviour and life history of a mangrove-dwelling capitellid (Polychaeta). In: Hutchings P.A. (ed), Proceedings of the First International Polychaete Conference. Sydney Australia, Milsons Point: The Linnean Society of New South Wales. pp. 323-337.

Grassle J.P., Grassle J.F. 1976. Sibling species in the marine pollution indicator Capitella (Polychaeta). Science 192: 567-569. PMid:1257794

Hermans C.O. 1979. Polychaete egg sizes, life histories and phylogeny. In: Stancyk S.E. (ed), Reproductive Ecology of Marine Invertebrates, Columbia. University of South Carolina Press, pp. 1-9.

Lardicci C., Ceccherelli G. 1994. Dinamica di popolazione di una specie del complesso Capitella capitata in un piccolo bacino salmastro dell'isola d'Elba. Biol. Mar. Medit. 1: 355-356.

Linke-Gamenick I., Forbes V.E., Méndez N. 2000. Effects of chronic fluoranthene exposure on sibling species of Capitella with different development modes. Mar. Ecol. Progr. Ser. 203: 191-203.

Linton D.L., Taghun G.L. 2000. Feeding, growth, and fecundity of Capitella sp. I in relation to sediment organic concentration. Mar. Ecol. Progr. Ser. 205: 229-240.

Méndez N. 1995. Non-pelagic development of Capitella capitata (Polychaeta) in the littoral zone of Barcelona, Spain. Sci. Mar. 59: 95-101.

Méndez N. 2002. Experimental evidence of polymorphysm of sexual development in Capitella sp B (Polychaeta: Capitellidae) from Barcelona, Spain. Sci. Mar. 66: 103-110.

Méndez N. 2006. Life cycle of Capitella sp Y (Polychaeta: Capitellidae) from Estero del Yugo, Mazatlan, Mexico. J. Mar. Biol. Ass. U.K. 86: 263-269.

Méndez N., Barata C. 2015. Effects of the antidepressant fluoxetine in spiked-sediments on developmental and reproductive features of the polychaetes Capitella teleta and Capitella sp A. Ecotoxicology 24: 106-118. PMid:25359692

Méndez N., Romero J., Flos J. 1997. Population dynamics and production of the polychaete Capitella capitata in the littoral zone of Barcelona (Spain, NW Mediterranean). J. Exp. Mar. Biol. Ecol. 218: 263-284.

Méndez N., Flos J., Romero J. 1998. Littoral soft-bottom polychaete communities in a pollution gradient in front of Barcelona (Western Mediterranean, Spain). Bull. Mar. Sci. 63: 167-178.

Méndez N., Linke-Gamenick I., Forbes V.E. 2000. Variability in reproductive mode and larval development within the Capitella capitata species-complex. Invetebr. Reprod. Dev. 38: 131-142.

Pearson M., Pearson T.H. 1991. Variation in populations of Capitella capitata (Fabricius, 1780) (Polychaeta) from the West coast of Scotland. Ophelia Suppl. 5: 363-370.

Pearson T.H., Rosenberg R. 1978. Macrobenthic succession in relation to organic enrichment and pollution of the marine environment. Oceanogr. Mar. Biol. Ann. Rev. 16: 229-311.

Pechenik J.A., Cerulli T.R. 1991. Influence of delayed metamorphosis on survival, growth, and reproduction of the marine polychaete Capitella sp I. J. Exp. Mar. Biol. Ecol. 151: 17-27.

Petraitis P.S. 1985. Females inhibit males' propensity to develop into simultaneous hermaphrodites in Capitella species I (Polychaeta). Biol. Bull. Mar. Biol. Lab. Woods Hole. 168: 395-402.

Qian P., Chia F.S. 1992. Effects of diet type on the demographics of Capitella capitata (Annelida: Polychaeta): Lecithotrophic development vs planktotrophic development. J. Exp. Mar. Biol. Ecol. 157: 159-179.

Qian P., Chia F.S. 1994. In situ measurement of recruitment, mortality, growth, and fecundity of Capitella sp. (Annelida: Polychaeta). Mar. Ecol. Progr. Ser. 111: 53-62.

Reish D.J. 1980. Use of polychaetous annelids as test organisms bioassay experiments. In: Buikema A.L. Jr, Cairns J. Jr. (eds), Aquatic Invertebrate Bioassays, ASTM STP 715, American Society for Testing and Materials. pp. 140-154.

Tenore K.R. 1977. Growth of Capitella capitata cultured in various levels of detritus from different sources. Limnol. Oceanogr. 22: 936-941.

Tsutsumi H. 1987. Population dynamics of Capitella capitata (Polychaeta: Capitellidae) in an organically polluted cove. Mar. Ecol. Prog. Ser. 36: 139-149.

Tsutsumi H., Kikuchi T. 1984. Study of the life history of Capitella capitata (Polychaeta: Capitellidae) in Amakusa, South Japan, including a comparison with other geographical regions. Mar. Biol. 80: 315-321.

Tsutsumi H., Fukunaga S., Fujita N., et al. 1990. Relationship between growth of Capitella sp. and organic enrichment of the sediment. Mar. Ecol. Progr. Ser. 63: 157-162.

Warren L.M. 1976a. A population study of the polychaete Capitella capitata in Plymouth. Mar. Biol. 38: 209-216.

Warren L.M. 1976b. A review of the genus Capitella (Polychaeta, Capitellidae). J. Zool. 180: 195-209.

Wu B.L., Qian P.Y., Zhang S.L. 1991. Morphology, Reproduction, Ecology and allozyme electrophoresis of three Capitella sibling species in Qingdao (Polychaeta: Capitellidae). Ophelia Suppl. 5: 391-400.

Copyright (c) 2016 Consejo Superior de Investigaciones Científicas (CSIC)

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.

Contact us

Technical support