Invasion History

First Non-native North American Tidal Record: 1942
First Non-native West Coast Tidal Record: 1974
First Non-native East/Gulf Coast Tidal Record: 1942

General Invasion History:

Neodexiospira brasiliensis was described from Florianopolis, Brazil, but its native region is uncertain. One early record (as Spirorbis bellulus, Bush 1904) was taken from Suruga Bay, Japan. Knight -Jones and Knight-Jones (1975) note that the genus Neodexiospira has its greatest diversity in the Indo-Pacific, where it ranges from the Kurile Islands to New Zealand (Knight-Jones and Knight-Jones 1975; Rzhavsky 1991). Early introduced records are from Mississippi (1st record 1942, Hartman 1951; Knight-Jones et al. 1975, no further records); South Africa (1st record 1953, Knight-Jones and Knight-Jones 1984; Mead et al. 2011b); North Carolina (1st record 1974, Nelson 1979); England (1st record 1974, Critchley et al. 1985); and California (Knight-Jones et al. 1979).

North American Invasion History:

Invasion History on the West Coast:

In 1974, Neodexiospira brasiliensis was found on harbor floats at three southern California marinas: Marina del Rey, Alamitos Bay, and San Pedro Harbor (Knight-Jones and Knight-Jones 1975). They noted that the appearance of Neodexiospira spp. is sporadic, which they suggested might be due to red tides. In a 2011 survey, this worm was found on floats and pilings in central California at Tomales and Monterey Bays, as well as 10 southern California bays and harbors from Channel Islands Harbor (Oxnard) to San Diego Bay, including Avalon Harbor, on Santa Catalina Island (California Department of Fish and Game 2014). We have no information as to whether N. brasiliensis has colonized seaweeds or seagrasses, as it has in Japan, Europe, and North Carolina. It may be overlooked due to similarity with native spirorbids.

Invasion History on the East Coast:

In 1974, Neodexiospira brasiliensis was first reported from the Newport River, Morehead City, North Carolina. Abundant populations were found settling on Eelgrass (Zostera marina), but we have no further records from this area. However, in a Rapid Assessment Survey in 2013, this polychaete was found in marinas in Point Judith Pond and Newport (Narragansett Bay), Rhode Island and the Westport River (Buzzards Bay), Massachusetts (Wells et al. 2014).

Invasion History on the Gulf Coast:

In 1942, specimens of Neodexiospira brasiliensis from Biloxi, Mississippi were identified by Hartman as the conspecific 'Dexiospira corrugatus'. Many tubes were found on blades of Turtlegrass (Thalassia testudinum) (Hartman 1951). This population appears to have been established, but we have no further records form the Gulf.

Invasion History Elsewhere in the World:

In Europe, Neodexiospira brasiliensis is often found in association with the invading brown seaweed Sargassum muticum. It was first found on S. muticum and on harbor pontoons in Portsmouth Harbour, England (Kinght-Jones et al. 1975). It was subsequently found at other sites on the south coast of England, along the Solent near Portsmouth (1st record 1975, Critchley et al. 1983) and in the River Yealm, Devon (1st record 1976, Critchley et al. 1983). Neodexiospira brasiliensis was found in Cherbourg, France in 1976 (Critchley et al. 1983) and appeared at St. Helier, Jersey, in the Channel Islands (Critchley et al. 1997). Much more extensive spread was noticed in the Netherlands, where dense populations were found at the mouth of the Goessche Sas canal off the Eastern Scheldt estuary in 1982. Settlement was denser on Eelgrass (Zostera marina) than on S. muticum or on the canal walls (Cricthley and Thorp 1985). By 2000, it had spread into Zuid Beveland Canal (Wolff 2005), and became widespread in the southwest Netherlands Delta. In 2009, it was found at Texel, in the Wadden Sea (Gittenberger et al. 2010).

Neodexiospira brasiliensis is established at the tip of South Africa. It was collected at Cape Town in 1953, and Port Elizabeth in 1961 (Knight-Jones and Knight-Jones 1984; Mead et al. 2011b).


Worms of the Spirorbinae (currently considered a subfamily of Serpulidae) are small tubeworms, usually growing in tightly coiled, calcareous tubes (Blake and Ruff 2007; Ten Hove and Kupriyanova 2009). They have a branchial crown of feather-like radioles, as in the other serpulids. The radioles can be folded and withdrawn into the tube. One of the radioles is modified to form an operculum, which acts as a plug when the animal contracts. The peristomium (segment behind the mouth) is folded back to form a collar, which bears uniramous parapodia, with a distinctive set of collar chaetae, with spines or serrations. The collar is the first of three or four asymmetrical thoracic chaetigers. Description based on: Hayward and Ryland 1990 and Blake and Ruff 2007.

The tube of Neodexiospira brasiliensis is coiled dextrally (counter-clockwise when seen from above). Larger tubes often have four equidistant parallel grooves, which are easily seen from above, and are opaque and white. Embryos are brooded in the operculum, which has opaque and thickly calcified walls, except for a transparent zone near the basal disk. When not brooding embryos, the cylindrical-funnel shaped operculum contains a talon which may vary from broadly triangular to axe-shaped. The operculum is covered by a slightly concave distal plate. As the embryos develop, a second distal plate develops beneath the embryos, and a new brood chamber is formed.

The thoracic membrane of N. brasiliensis is fused dorsally, to form a tunnel over the fecal groove. There are three chaetigers in the thoracic region, each with paired bundles of chaetae. Some collar chaetae have a slight knee-like swelling, with a finely toothed edge; there are capillary chaetae mixed among them, comprising about 11 chaetae in each bundle. The third chaetiger contains sickle-like chaetae, again with a knee-like swelling, but with the fine teeth on the curved blade. The longest abdominal chaetae are sickle-like and longer than the collar chaetae, with coarse teeth. The animal forms a coil about 2 mm in diameter. The body color is orange (Image at Description based on: Knight-Jones et al. 1975, Knight-Jones and Knight-Jones 1977, Hayward and Ryland 1990, and MarLin 2015.

Potentially misidentified species: Polychaetes of the subfamily Spirorbinae are diverse. For example, at least 7 genera and 13 species are known from the central region of the West Coast (Blake and Ruff 2007). Only the most closely related species are listed below. They are easily overlooked as a result of their small size, and because many key characters are concealed by tube that is easily breakable, as is the worm inside it. Consequently, records are dependent on specialists and frequently sporadic.


Taxonomic Tree

Kingdom:   Animalia
Phylum:   Annelida
Class:   Polychaeta
Subclass:   Palpata
Order:   Canalipalpata
Suborder:   Sabellida
Family:   Serpulidae
SubFamily:   Spirorbinae
Genus:   Neodexiospira
Species:   brasiliensis


Dexiospira brasiliensis (None, None)
Dexiospira oshoroensis (Uchida, 1971)
Janua anti-corrugata (Vine, 1972)
Janua brasiliensis (None, None)
Janua nipponica (Rzavsky, 1989)
Janua pseudocorrugata (Vine, 1975)
Spirobis brasiliensis (Grube, 1872)
Spirobis nipponicus (Khlebovich, 1961)
Spirorbis bellulus (Bush, 1904)
Spirorbis corrugatus (None, None)

Potentially Misidentified Species

Janua pagenstecheri
Janua pagenstecheri may be native to the northeast Atlantic, but is now widespread in tropical and temperate waters. Recently discovered populations in New England appear to be introduced.

Neodexiospira foraminosa
Neodexiospira foraminosa is widespread in tropical and subtropical waters. It has been found in the Gulf of Mexico (Knight-Jones and Knight-Jones 1975), where we consider it cryptogenic.

Neodexiospira pseudocorrugata
Neodexiospira pseudocorrugata is widespread in temperate and tropical waters (Knight-Jones and Knight-Jones 1975).

Spirorbis corrugatus
Hartman (1951) identified Neodexiospira brasiliensis as this European species.



Neodexiospira brasiliensis is a small, tube-dwelling, epifaunal polychaete. The worms are hermaphroditic, with male and female gonads. Fertilization occurs outside the body, but inside the tube, where the larvae are brooded in an opercular chamber. Self-fertilization can occur, but is rare (Knight-Jones and Knight Jones 1977; Benkwitt 1981). Larvae are lecithrophic and can settle and begin metamorphosis within 1-5 hours of hatching (Kirchman et al. 1982). Larvae of N. brasiliensis tend to settle on vegetation, including red algae: Ceramium planum; brown algae: Fucus serratus, Sargassum muticum; green algae: Ulva lobata; and seagrasses Zostera marina, Zostera asiatica, Phyllospadix iwatensis (Knight-Jones and Knight-Jones 1975; Nelson 1979; Critchley and Thorp 1997). This worm also occurs on pontoons, mussel and snail shells (Critchley and Thorp 1997). Bacterial films appear to induce settlement (Kirchman et al. 1982). Differing preferences for young (Nelson 1979, North Carolina) or old Zostera leaves (Hamamoto and Mukai 1999) may be related to associated bacteria (Kirchman 1982

Neodexiospira brasiliensis is a wide-ranging, tube-dwelling polychaete, occurring from the lower upper subtidal to at least 137 m depth, and from cold-temperate regions to the tropics (Knight-Jones and Knight-Jones 1975; Rzhavsky 1991). Spirorbinine polychaetes are filter-feeders, feeding on phytoplankton and other suspended particles (Fauchald and Jumars 1979).



Trophic Status:

Suspension Feeder



General HabitatGrass BedNone
General HabitatCoarse Woody DebrisNone
General HabitatRockyNone
General HabitatMarinas & DocksNone
General HabitatCanalsNone
Salinity RangePolyhaline18-30 PSU
Salinity RangeEuhaline30-40 PSU
Tidal RangeSubtidalNone
Tidal RangeLow IntertidalNone
Vertical HabitatEpibenthicNone

Tolerances and Life History Parameters

Maximum Width (mm)2Coil diameter, Knight -Jones and Knight-Jones 1975; Knight -Jones and Knight-Jones 1977
Broad Temperature RangeNoneCold temperate-Tropical
Broad Salinity RangeNonePolyhaline-Euhaline

General Impacts

Ecological or economic impacts of Neodexiospira brasiliensis have rarely been reported. In the Goes Canal, the Netherlands, heavy settlement of the worms may have impaired photosynthesis of Eelgrass (Zostera marina) and led to the breaking of leaves. However, this effect may have been very local, due to elevated temperatures in the canal (Critchley and Thorp 1985; Eno et al. 1997).

Regional Impacts

NEA-IINoneEcological ImpactHabitat Change
Heavy settlement of Neodexiospira brasilensis on Eelgrass (Zostera marina) in the Goes Canal, the Netherlands, has led to damage and breaking of leaves (Crtichley and Thorp 1997).

Regional Distribution Map

Bioregion Region Name Year Invasion Status Population Status
SA-II None 1872 Crypto Estab
CAR-I Northern Yucatan, Gulf of Mexico, Florida Straits, to Middle Eastern Florida 1942 Def Estab
CAR-VII Cape Hatteras to Mid-East Florida 1974 Def Estab
NEP-VI Pt. Conception to Southern Baja California 1974 Def Estab
NEA-II None 1974 Def Estab
WA-IV None 1953 Def Estab
WA-V None 1961 Def Estab
RS-2 None 0 Crypto Estab
NWP-4a None 0 Crypto Estab
NWP-3b None 1904 Crypto Estab
NWP-4b None 0 Crypto Estab
NZ-IV None 1975 Crypto Estab
AUS-XII None 0 Crypto Estab
AUS-XI None 0 Crypto Estab
AUS-X None 1973 Crypto Estab
AUS-VIII None 0 Crypto Estab
AUS-IX None 0 Crypto Estab
NWP-5 None 1934 Crypto Estab
P050 San Pedro Bay 1974 Def Estab
P060 Santa Monica Bay 1974 Def Estab
SP-XIII None 0 Crypto Estab
S030 Bogue Sound 1974 Crypto Estab
G170 West Mississippi Sound 1942 Def Estab
M010 Buzzards Bay 1982 Def Estab
M020 Narragansett Bay 2013 Def Estab
M023 _CDA_M023 (Narragansett) 2013 Def Estab
NA-ET3 Cape Cod to Cape Hatteras 1982 Def Estab
P110 Tomales Bay 2011 Def Estab
P080 Monterey Bay 2011 Def Estab
NEP-V Northern California to Mid Channel Islands 2011 Def Estab
P062 _CDA_P062 (Calleguas) 2011 Def Estab
P040 Newport Bay 2011 Def Estab
P027 _CDA_P027 (Aliso-San Onofre) 2011 Def Estab
P023 _CDA_P023 (San Louis Rey-Escondido) 2011 Def Estab
P058 _CDA_P058 (San Pedro Channel Islands) 2011 Def Estab
P030 Mission Bay 2011 Def Estab
P020 San Diego Bay 2011 Def Estab
NEA-IV None 1980 Def Estab
RS-3 None 0 Crypto Estab

Occurrence Map

OCC_ID Author Year Date Locality Status Latitude Longitude


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Benkwitt, Richard (1982) Electrophoretic evidence for self-fertilization in tow species of spirorbid polychaetes, Bulletin of the Southern California Academy of Sciences 81(2): 61-68

Blake, James A.; Ruff, R. Eugene (2007) The Light and Smith Manual: Intertidal invertebrates from Central California to Oregon (4th edition), University of California, Berkeley CA. Pp. 309-410

California Department of Fish and Wildlife (2014) Introduced Aquatic Species in California Bays and Harbors, 2011 Survey, California Department of Fish and Wildlife, Sacramento CA. Pp. 1-36

Çinar, Melih Ertan (2013) Alien polychaete species worldwide: current status and their impacts, Journal of the Marine Biological Association of the United Kingdom 93(5): 1257-1278

Critchley, A. T., Farnham, W. F., Thorp, C. H. (1997) On the co-occurrence of two exotic, invasive marine organisms: the brown seaweed Sargassum muticum (Yendo) Fensholt and the Spirobid tube worm Janua (Neodexiospira) brasiliensis (Grube), in association with the indigenous eelgrass, Zoster, South African Journal of Botany 63(6): 474-479

Critchley, Alan T., Thorp, C. H. (1985) Janua (Dexiospira) brasilliensis (Grube) (Polychaeta: Spirorbidae): a new record from the south-west Netherlands, Zoologische Bijdragen <missing volume>(31): 1-8

Faasse, Marco (2011) Pileolaria berkeleyana, a spirorbin polychaete worm introduced to the Netherlands (Polychaeta: Serpulidae: Spirorbinae), Nederlandse Faunistiche Mededelingen 36: 99-102

Gittenberger, Adriaan; Rensing, Marjolein; Stegenga, Herre; Hoeksema, Bert (2010) Native and non-native species of hard substrata in the Dutch Wadden Sea, Nederlandse Faunistiche Mededelingen 33: 20-76

Hamamoto, Kyoko; Mukai, Hiroshi (1999) Effects of larval settlement and post- settlement mortality on the distribution pattern and abundance of the spirorbid tube worm bNeodexiospira brasiliensis (Grube) (Polychaeta) living on seagrass leaves, Marine Ecology 20(3-4): 140-161

Hartman, O. (1951) The littoral marine annelids of the Gulf of Mexico, Publications of the Institute of Marine Science 2(1): 7-124

Hutchings, Pat; Rainer, Sebastian (1979) The Polychaeta fauna of Careel Bay, Pittwater, Australia., Journal of Natural History 13: 745-791

Kirchman, David; Graham, Stephen; Reish, Donald; Mitchell, Raph (1982) Bacteria induce settlement and metamorphosis of Janua (Dexiospira) brasiliensis) Grube (Polychaeta: Spirorbidae), Journal of Experimental Marine Biology and Ecology 56: 153-163

Knight-Jones, Phyllis, Knight-Jones, E. Wyn, Thorp, Clifford H., Gray, Peter W. G. (1975) Immigrant spirorbids (Polychaeta Sedentaria) on the Japanese Sargassum at Portsmouth, England, Zoologica Scripta 4: 145-149

Knight-Jones, Phyllis, Knight-Jones, E.W. (1984) Systematics, ecology and distribution of southern hemisphere spirorbids (Polychaeta; Spirorbidae)., In: Hutchings, P.A.(Eds.) Proceedings of the First International Polychaete Conference.. , New South Wales. Pp. 196-210

Knight-Jones, Phyllis, Knight-Jones, E.W., Dales, R. Phillips (1979) Spirorbidae (Polychaeta Sedentaria) from Alaska to Panama, Journal of Zoology, London 189: 419-458

Knight-Jones, Phyllis, Knight-Jones, E.W., Kawahara, Tatuo (1975) A review of the genus Janua, including Dexiospira (Polychaeta: Spirorbinae), Zoological Journal of the Linnean Society 56: 91-129

Mead, A.; Carlton, J. T.; Griffiths, C. L.; Rius, M. (2011a) Revealing the scale of marine bioinvasions in developing regions: a South African re-assessment, Biological Invasions 13(9): 1991-2008

Mead, A.; Carlton, J. T.; Griffiths, C. L. Rius, M. (2011b) Introduced and cryptogenic marine and estuarine species of South Africa, Journal of Natural History 39-40: 2463-2524

Nelson, Walter G. (1979) Observations on the settlement patterns of Janua (Dexiospira) brasiliensis (Polychaeta: Serpulidae), Estuaries 2(4): 213-217

Ruiz, Gregory M.; Geller, Jonathan (2018) Spatial and temporal analysis of marine invasions in California, Part II: Humboldt Bay, Marina del Re, Port Hueneme, and San Francisco Bay, Smithsonian Environmental Research Center & Moss Landing Laboratories, Edgewater MD, Moss Landing CA. Pp. <missing location>

Rzhavsky, A. V. (1991) Revision of Januinae (Polychaeta, Spirorbidae) in the Seas of the USSR, Zoologichaeskii Zhurrnal 70(8): 37-44

Rzhhasky, A. V. (1991) Revision of Januinae (Polychaeta, Spirorbidae) in the seas of the USSR., Zoologicheskii Zhurnal 70(8): 37-45

U.S. National Museum of Natural History 2002-2021 Invertebrate Zoology Collections Database.

Wehe, Thomas; Fiege, Dieter (2002) Annotated checklist of the polychaete species of the seas surrounding the Arabian Peninsula: Red Sea, Gulf of Aden, Arabian Sea, Gulf of Oman, Arabian Gulf., Fauna of Arabia 19: 7-238

Wells, Christopher D. and 23 authors (2014) Report on the 2013 rapid assessment survey of marine species at New England bays and harbors, Massachusetts Office of Coastal Zone Management, Boston MA. Pp. 32

Zibrowius, Helmut, Thorp, Clifford H. (1989) A review of the alien serpulid and spirorbid polychaetes in the British Isles, Cahiers de Biologie Marine 30(3): 271-285