Articles | Volume 13, issue 2
01 Dec 1994
 | 01 Dec 1994

Tubicolous polychaetes as substrates for epizoic foraminifera

Martin R. Langer and Harmeet Bagi

Abstract. Associations of epizoic foraminifera and invertebrates are widespread and have been reported from polar to tropical and shallow to bathyal environments (Zumwalt & DeLaca, 1980). Their fossil record stretches far back into Palaeozoic times as documented by agglutinated foraminifera attached to crinoids in Silurian and Devonian reef deposits of Morocco and Gotland (Franzen, 1974). Strong preferences for filter-feeding hosts suggest that epizoic foraminifera benefit from increased nutritional resources accumulated in the immediate flow microhabitat (Langer & Long, 1994).

In the course of a broader study on foraminifera/invertebrate associations, several hundred foraminifera attached to the outer wall of agglutinated tubes of various polychaetes (e.g. Sabella sp., Potamilla sp.) were collected from sediment samples dredged at 61 m depth off the University of California, Moss Landing Marine Laboratory (NW Pacific). Attached foraminifera display a remarkable mode to obtain and differentially cement grains from the host tube that previously has not been reported. Agglutinated polychaete tubes and fragments thereof may reach 2 cm or more in length and are composed of fine sand, silt and micas cemented together by secreted organic material (Fig. 1). Tubes are typically orientated vertically in the mud and project above the sediment surface into the water column.


Examination of agglutinated polychaete tubes revealed that their outer walls were commonly colonized by one to three foraminiferans (Figs 1–3, tube diameter 1.5–2.0 mm). The epizoic foraminiferal fauna comprised exclusively agglutinated taxa and included the following species: Alveophragmium advenum (Cushman), Textularia abbreviata Lalicker & McCulloch, Textularia schencki . . .