Description There are 10 species in the genus Protula (1), while Protula tubularia is not listed under any important conservation actions (2) . This solitary bristle worm is found in a white, calcareous tube and has a small, elongated body and grows up to 0.5cm in length (3). The body has up to 120 red orange posterior segments, while the short and green anterior region has only eight segments. The head is reduced and has two gill lobes, each with 20-45 white or pinkish spiralled tentacles in two rows. It also has paired red blotches and numerous eyespots. Chaetae are present on all segments, except the first. The chaetae in the thoracic region are golden in colour and are long and slender with narrow wings. However, the ones in the posterior region are longer but lack the narrow wings. Unlike Serpula vermicularis, P. tubularia lacks the distinctive stalked opeculum (2).
Behaviour It is thought that Serpulid aggregations generally form in unstable environments, possibly as an adaption against competition and/or predation (4).
Life cycle P.tubularia has been noted to reproduce throughout June, August and September (2).
Habitat Polychaeta are benthic sublittoral species and are often dominant in confined areas of submerged caves (4).
Distribution Protula tubularia have been reported from the Mediterranean, all the way to the Shetlands, Scotland to the western Atlantic (5) (6). It had recently been reported as an invasive species in Mumbai harbour, India, where it’s thought that its introduction is ship mediated (7).
Food This filter feeder feeds mainly on bacteria and other organic matter. It prefers a moderately strong water current (8). The cilia of this serpulid passes water between the branches of its plumes, where it then moves the food (which has become mixed with a mucus like substance) down to the mouth (6).
Conservation Status Not evaluated under the IUCN Redlist (10).
References Description written by Kathryn Woodward (2009) (1) ZipCodeZoo, 2009. Protula tubularia. [Online] Available at: http://zipcodezoo.com/Animals/P/Protula_tubularia/ [Accessed 27 August 2009]. (2) Richards, S., 2008. Protula tubularia. A bristleworm. [Online] [Accessed 26 August 2009]. (3) Wood, L., 2002. Sea Fishes and Invertebrates of the Mediterranean Sea. London: New Holland Publishers (UK) Ltd. (4) Belmonte, G. et al., n.d. Biogenic stalactites in submarine caves at the Cape of Otranto (SE Italy): dating and hypothesis on their formation. (5) Hove, H., Fauchald, K., Fiege, D. & Bellan, G., 2009. Protula tubularia (Montagu, 1803). [Online] Available at: http://www.marinespecies.org/aphia.php?p=taxdetails&id=131035 [Accessed 27 August 2009]. (6) Smith, T.R., 1964. Keys to Marine Invertebrates of the Woods Hole Region. (7) Gaonkar, C.A. et al., 2009. Mumbai harbour, INdia: gateway for introduction of marine organisms. Environmental Monitoring and Assessment. (8) Sprung, J., 2001. Invertebrates: A Quick Reference Guide. USA: Ricordea Publishing. (9) Wirtz, P. & Debelius, H., 2003. Mediterranean and Atlantic Invertebrate Guide. Hackenheim, Germany: ConchBooks. (10) IUCN 2009. IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Version 2009.1. <www.iucnredlist.org>. Downloaded on 31 August 2009.