Sea-spider (Nymphon gracile)

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Sea-spider fact file

Sea-spider description

KingdomAnimalia
PhylumArthropoda
ClassPycogonida
OrderPantopoda
FamilyNymphonidae
GenusNymphon (1)

The sea-spiders, or pycogonids, are an unusual group of marine arthropods, which are completely unrelated to terrestrial spiders, despite superficially resembling them (3). The body is slender, segmented, and divided into two regions, the head and the trunk (2). The head features a number of pairs of appendages, including two pairs of feeding appendages (chelifores) with pincers at the tips, a proboscis with the mouth at the end, and both sexes have a pair of egg-carrying 'legs' (2). The trunk bears four pairs of long, spindly legs, and has a small projection at the rear called the abdomen (2).

Size
Body length: up to 10 mm (2)
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Sea-spider biology

This sea-spider feeds on a variety of animals, such as small marine worms, sea-anemones and whelk egg-capsules (2). Individuals migrate to the sublittoral zone during the winter breeding season.

The sexes are separate, and males and females cling together during fertilisation. The eggs are released from openings at the base of the female's legs, and are fertilised externally (2). The male carries the eggs around on the special egg-carrying appendages. The larvae are similar in appearance to the adults, and undergo a series of moults before reaching the adult stage after five months. The average life-span is thought to be around one year (2).

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Sea-spider range

Found on the shores of north-west Europe, and common around British coasts (2).

You can view distribution information for this species at the National Biodiversity Network Gateway.
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Sea-spider habitat

This species can be found on the middle and lower shore underneath stones and seaweeds (2). It is able to swim, and also lives in shallow water (2).

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Sea-spider status

Common and widespread (2).

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Sea-spider threats

Not currently threatened.

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Sea-spider conservation

Specific conservation action has not been targeted at this species.

There may be further information about this species available via the National Biodiversity Network Gateway.
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Find out more

For more on this species see A student's guide to the seashore, Fish, J. D. & Fish, S. (1996) (Cambridge University Press).

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Authentication

This information is awaiting authentication by a species expert, and will be updated as soon as possible. If you are able to help please contact: arkive@wildscreen.org.uk
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Glossary

Larvae
Stage in an animal's lifecycle after it hatches from the egg. Larvae are typically very different in appearance to adults; they are able to feed and move around but usually are unable to reproduce.
Proboscis
A tubular protrusion from the anterior of an animal (e.g. the trunk of an elephant).
Sublittoral
A marine zone between the littoral zone (the shallow zone where light reaches the bed, subject to submersion and exposure by tides) and depths of around 200m.
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References

  1. National Biodiversity Network Species Dictionary (January 2003):. http://www.nhm.ac.uk/nbn/
  2. Fish, J. D. & Fish, S. (1996) A student's guide to the seashore. Second Edition. Cambridge University Press, Cambridge.
  3. Burnie, D (2001) Animal. Dorling Kindersley, London.
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Sea spider  
Sea spider

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