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Latin american journal of aquatic research

versión On-line ISSN 0718-560X

Lat. Am. J. Aquat. Res. vol.45 no.1 Valparaíso mar. 2017 

Short communication


New record of Pherecardia striata (Polychaeta: Amphinomidae) from Easter Island, Chile


Juan I. Cañete1

1 Departamento de Ciencias y Recursos Naturales, Facultad de Ciencias, Universidad de Magallanes, Punta Arenas, Chile

Corresponding author: Juan I. Cañete (
Corresponding editor: Diego Giberto

ABSTRACT. The polychaete amphinomid Pherecardia striata (Kingberg, 1857) is newly reported from the littoral off Easter Island (27°10'S, 109°20'W). The specimens are smallest than those collected in other tropical islands of the Pacific Ocean. P. striata resulted to be the least abundant of the three species of Amphinomidae collected from Easter Island: Eurythoe complanata (Pallas, 1776) and Linopherus sp. (Kohn & Lloyd, 1973b).

Keywords: Pherecardia striata, Amphinomidae, Polychaeta, benthos, biodiversity, Easter Island, Chile.


The main antecedents of Easter Island benthic polychaetes (27°10'S, 109°20'W) are contained in 11 articles: Chamberlin (1919), Augener (1922), Fauvel (1936), Hartmann-Schröder (1962), Kohn & Lloyd (1973a, 1973b), Castilla & Rozbaczylo (1987), Di Salvo et al. (1988), Rozbaczylo & Castilla (1988), Cañete (1997) and Boyko (2003). These works have described three species of Amphinomidae to be present at Easter Island littoral: Eurythoe complanata (Pallas, 1776), Linopherus sp. (Kohn & Lloyd, 1973b), and Pherecardia striata, which was only reported by Fauvel (1936).

P. striata is relatively common in the tropical zone of the Pacific Ocean (Kohn & Lloyd, 1973a, 1973b; Cañete, 1989; Rajasekaran & Fernando, 2012), and it is adapted to spatial macro-scale dispersion (Glasby, 2005) because of the qualities of its teleplanic larvae (rostraria). The aim of this study is to register for second time the presence of this species in the littoral of Easter Island, to increase the knowledge on polychaete benthic biodiversity at this remote island.

The analysis of approximately 60 samples over three summer periods (1983-1985) (Di Salvo et al., 1988) allowed register the presence of three specimens of P. striata, each collected in equal sample numbers.

Pherecardia striata (Kinberg, 1857)

(Figs. 1a-1d)
Hermodice striata (Kinberg, 1857)
Hermodice striata
(Fauvel, 1936)


Figure 1. a) Dorsal view of the front end of the polychaete Pherecardia
b) prostomium, dorsal view; c) parapodium 4, anterior view;
d) notochaeta and capillary neurochaeta, parapodium 4.


Pherecardia striata (Day, 1967; pp. 131, Figs. 3.2 p-t; Kohn & Lloyd, 1973b; Cañete, 1989).

Material under study: specimens were collected manually or by scuba diving performed by Dr. L.H. Di Salvo (Di Salvo et al., 1988), fixed in 10% formaldehyde, and deposited in the Systematics Room, Pontificia Universidad Católica de Chile (SSUC), Santiago, Chile - Easter Island polychaetes. Sta. 1 (1983): Apina Nui, 1 m depth, intertidal pool, under stone, 1 specimen; Sta. 2 (1984): Tahai, 20 m depth, no antecedents of the collection site, 1 specimen; and Sta. 3 (1985): Tahai, 35 m depth, on the coral Porites lobata, 1 specimen.

Description: P. striata is characterized by a soft, smooth, and whitish body; with numerous brown to black streaks on the dorsal zone that highlight white notopodial bristles; subquadrangular in cross section (Fig. 1a). Body length less than 20 mm. Prostomium with a medium antenna originated from the middle zone of the eye pair (Fig. 1b); anterior pair of short antennas that do not exceed the anterior base of the prostomium. Prominent caruncle with a fine dorsal medial sulcus, and 6 to 7 lateral folds that decrease in size from the front to the posterior end; reaches the third or fourth chaetiger segment (Fig. 1b). Gills start in the first chae- tiger segment and have a scarce number of cylin-drical-shaped branches; some of they are Y-shaped bifurcated; they are not dendritic (Fig. 1c). Single dorsal cirrus on each notopodium. Two types of notose- tae: 1) white and thin capillary setae, with an elongated tip and serrated margin, and 2) hook-shaped uncini, straight, and margin with 9 to 11 rows of spines (Fig 1d). Thin neuropodial bristles, thin and capillary-like, with serrated edges and a smooth, thin tip (Fig. 1d).

Comment: This is the second registration and collection of specimens in the littoral of Easter Island. It is considered that Amphinomidae of the Hermodice genus are very similar to the representatives of the Pherecardia genus. In this way, Yáñez-Rivera & Salazar-Vallejo (2011) provide evidence that confirm the differences between Hermodice (Kingberg, 1857) and Pherecardia Horst, 1886, being both genera currently valid. P. striata has gills that start in the chaetiger segment 1, whereas in the other two species of amphinomids from Easter Island, the gills start in the chaetiger segment 2. The three species have distinct gill morphology.

Distribution: Madagascar, Indonesia, Mozambique, Philippines, India, South Africa, Easter Island, New Caledonia, Hawaii Islands, Cook Islands, and Marshall Islands. Apparently it possesses circumtropical distribution in the Pacific and Indian Ocean.

Bathymetrie distribution in Easter Island: intertidal to shallow subtidal.

P. striata was originally described in the location of Eimeo, Society Islands. Later, it was described for the entire tropical zone of the Pacific and Indian Ocean (Knox, 1957; Day, 1967; Reish, 1968; Gibbs, 1972; Rullier, 1972; Kohn & Lloyd, 1973a, 1973b). The wide geographic distribution of this species should be due to the existence of the rostraria larva, which is typical for Amphinomidae polychaetes and has adaptations for a prolonged pelagic larval life (Glasby, 2005). This pattern of geographic distribution shown by P. striata is typical of species with circumtropical and subtropical distribution.

This is the second time P. striata is collected in the littoral of Easter Island. This species resulted to be the least abundant of the three species of Amphinomidae known in Easter Island, being the other two Eurythoe complanata (Pallas, 1776) and Linopherus sp. (Kohn & Lloyd, 1973b), which were also collected in this study (Cañete, 1989). P. striata has medium size (20 mm length), as compared to the other two Amphinomidae species (120 and 8 mm length respectively). The small size of these polychaetes, their coloring, and the fact they live in subtidal areas, might have motivated their unnoticed passage under the eyes of other researchers who visited the island in the twentieth century.

The small size of the specimens collected in Easter Island may be due to their adaptation to the microspaces left by dominant corals on the littoral, such as Porites lobata and Pocillopora spp. In other parts of the Pacific and Indian Ocean, P. striata can reach a size of up to 200 mm (Rajasekaran & Fernando, 2012). The competition with Eurythoe complanata, an abundant amphinomid of Easter Island, may limit food availability (actiniarian) and size. By bringing together past and current information, it can be seen that P. striata is present on the littoral of the entire island, similar to that described for the Polynoidae family (Cañete, 1997). P. striata was previously collected in the Cave Bay and in Hanga Roa by Fauvel (1936).

The richness in polychaete species belonging to the Amphinomidae family at Easter Island is small in comparison to other tropical islands of the Pacific Ocean of relatively similar size (Reish, 1968; Gibbs, 1972; Rullier, 1972; Kohn & Lloyd, 1973a; Rozbaczylo & Carrasco, 1995). Such situation could be due to the geographic isolation of the island, its small size, relative geological youth, and lack of awareness about the biodiversity in the subtidal zone (Di Salvo et al., 1988; Boyko, 2003).

Finally, it is important to emphasize that it is urgent to know the current status of the benthic biodiversity of Easter Island, especially now that this island is part of the large marine park that would protect the existing biodiversity.


The author wishes to acknowledge the ongoing support provided by Prof. Nicolás Rozbaczylo (Pontificia Universidad Católica de Chile, Santiago, Chile) to identify the species of Easter Island that were part of the undergraduate thesis. This work is dedicated to the memory of the esteemed Chilean polychaetologist Dr. Franklin Carrasco Vásquez (Universidad de Concepción, Concepción, Chile), who passed away the year 2015.


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Received: 30 March 2016;
Accepted: 15 September 2016


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