Date of Award


Document Type

Open Access Thesis

Degree Name

Master of Science (MS)



First Advisor

Michael Rex

Second Advisor

Richard Kesseli

Third Advisor

John Ebersole


The bitentaculate cirratulid polychaetes are an important faunal element of both near shore and deep-sea benthic faunal communities. The true diversity of the family is currently unknown due to a large number of undescribed species and erroneously applied “cospmopolitan” names being applied to local species. Cirratulids have been misidentified even in the local waters near the University of Massachusetts Boston. The current study presents six new species from North America. Caulleriella venefica, Chaetozone anasimus, Chaetozone diodonta, and Chaetozone hystricosus are described from Boston Harbor and Massachusetts Bay where only two species had previously been reported. Aphelochaeta bullata and A. guttata are described from continental slope sediments off northern California. Morphological characters important for differentiation of these genera and species are discussed. Setal morphology as well as arrangement is clarified for both Caulleriella and Chaetozone. For the more simplistic genus Aphelochaeta, characters related to the peristomium and shape of the abdominal segments in both juveniles and adults is presented. The importance of methyl green staining patterns as a tool to discerning even incomplete specimens is also presented. These formal descriptions of new taxa will contribute to a larger understanding of the systematics and interrelationships of the bitentaculate Cirratulidae.


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