Introduction of non-native species threatens local marine biodiversity, generating substantial costs for the aquaculture and tourism industries when native (including commercial) species are displaced. It is important that non-indigenous species are identified and controlled before they establish locally becoming invasive pests. The important vectors contributing to human-related dispersal of marine species include ship hull biofouling, ballast water and the aquaculture trade. Among over 80 polychaete families, fouling (Serpulidae and Sabellidae) and burrowing (Spionidae) worms are most commonly introduced to new localities. To assist in identification of potentially invasive non-native polychaetes, a web-based guide fully illustrated with original photographs was developed at the Australian Museum. The guide covers 66 species including 38 species of Serpulidae, 14 species of Sabellidae, and 14 species of Spionidae. This guide is intended for use by biologists, environmental consultants, quarantine officers and port management authorities as correct identification of species is essential for marine pest monitoring and management. The “Polychaete Identifier” will be extended to include other potentially invasive marine species of polychaetes, as well as crustaceans and molluscs in the near future, subject to funding availability.
- Identification key