Journal of the Marine Biological Association of the UK

Research Article

A new method to determine the reproductive condition in female tubeworms tested in Seepiophila jonesi (Polychaeta: Siboglinidae: Vestimentifera)

Ana Hilárioa1a3 c1, Paul A. Tylera1 and David W. Ponda2

a1 School of Ocean and Earth Science, University of Southampton, National Oceanography Centre, European Way, SO14 3ZH, Southampton, UK

a2 Biological Sciences Division, British Antarctic Survey, High Cross, Madingley Road, CB3 0ET, Cambridge, UK

a3 Present address: CESAM, Departamento de Biologia, Campus Universitário de Santiago, 3810-193 Aveiro, Portugal


Vestimentiferan tubeworms are significant members of deep-sea chemosynthetically-driven communities, including hydrothermal vents and cold seeps. The reproductive condition in this taxon is rarely studied because of sampling constraints inherent to these environments, and the lack of a simple methodology to quantify gonad development in vestimentiferans.

We demonstrate that the amount of gonad found in the first 10 mm of trunk can be used as representative of the reproductive condition of the individual, and we establish a linear relationship between the amount of gonad and the proportion of wax ester in the trunk of female vestimentiferans. This relationship represents a new method for the determination of the reproductive condition in this group.

(Received November 24 2006)

(Accepted September 24 2007)

(Online publication June 24 2008)


c1 Correspondence should be addressed to: Ana Hilário CESAM, Departamento de Biologia Universidade de Aveiro Campus Universitário de Santiago 3810-193 Aveiro, Portugal email: