Fauna of Australia Volume 4A

cover of Fauna of Australia Volume 4A

The most comprehensive account of the polychaetes ever published.

Polychaetes and Allies is the most comprehensive account of the polychaetes ever published; it also deals with the Echiura, Sipuncula, and the closely related Pogonophora, and the diverse, parasitic Myzostomida, described fully in English for the first time.

Based on nearly 2400 references, the authors reveal the wealth of diversity in the largely unknown world of these worm groups, in terms of their morphology, behaviour, reproduction and significance in marine ecosystems.

Significant components of all marine ecosytems, polychaetes dominate soft bottom marine communities in terms of numbers of species and individuals present. They are important in the food web, both as predators and as important prey items for other animals, including crustaceans, fish and wading birds. Many polychaetes are important bioturbators of sediment and facilitate the incorporation of organic matter into sediments. Because of their ubiquitous distribution, polychaetes can be used as indicators of pollution and the "state of health" of a benthic community.

Some polychaetes are economically significant. Several form the basis of a growing commercial fish bait industry, while others are pests, affecting commercial shellfish farms or fouling ships and other structures, eg intake and cooling pipes of power stations. Sipunculans are an important food source for some tropical islanders.

This authoritative volume describes the higher classification of the groups and the fauna of the region to family level.


"This excellent and much needed book presents detailed, well-referenced overviews for a significant portion of the Australian marine worm fauna. Extensively illustrated throughout with high-quality original line drawings of indigenous species, it provides good taxonomic keys to the families, yet is not a taxonomic guide per se. The comprehensive treatment of the phylogeny, taxonomy, classification, history, biology, ecology and zoogeography of polychaete worms and their allies makes this a truly encyclopedic work. As such, it has worldwide relevance to specialists and non-specialists alike; an essential reference volume for everyone interested in polychaetes, myzostomes, pogonophores, echiurans and sipunculans."
Dr Andrew Mackie, Secretary-Treasurer, International Polychaetology Associaton & Head of Marine Biodiversity, National Museum of Wales, Cardiff, United Kingdom

"An important global reference for benthic ecologists, with a wealth of detail on diet, reproductive strategies, longevity and other life-history attributes of species within the different polychaete, echiuran and sipunculan families. It includes the best general description of the external morphology, anatomy and physiology of polychaete families worldwide available today, and is profusely illustrated by clear line drawings and 12 colour pages of the most marvellous worm photographs that I have seen. "
Dr. Graham Edgar, Research Fellow, University of Tasmania, Hobart, Australia

"Fully maintaining the standards of excellence in text and illustrations established in previous volumes of the Fauna of Australia, this work is much more than an account of the Australian polychaete and allied fauna. The biology of the polychaetes is treated comprehensively, yet provides for the general zoological reader and anyone requiring a review of current knowledge for more than 80% of the recognised polychaete families. Authoritative accounts are also given of the biology of four allied groups, the Myzostomida, Pogonophora, Echiura and Sipuncula. The broad international appeal of the book should ensure its presence in libraries and institutions wherever marine invertebrate biology is studied."
Dr. Don Anderson, Emeritus Professor of Biology, University of Sydney, Australia

". . . it is a majestic publication, and a great piece of science. . .As an invertebrate zoologist, my prelim review allows me to say, "Wow!"
Dr John Pearce, North American Editor, Marine Pollution Bulletin

“It is marvellous to have this book, especially with the spin-off relevance to neighbouring New Zealand. Its major value for me without a doubt will be the family overviews, which I expect to be consulting frequently. “Polychaetes & allies” is a definite “must have” for everyone seriously interested in worms and, by virtue of a reasonable price, should also be attractive as a reference work for libraries and non-specialists.”
Geoffrey Read, National Institute of Water & Atmosphere Research (New Zealand Journal of Marine and Freshwater Research v.34 2000)

“… certainly a must for everyone who is interested in these groups. … To conclude: Systematics and biology of ”Polychaetes & Allies” have done a major step forwards. Congratulations to all people involved.”
G. Haszprunar (Spixiana v.24 no.2 2001)

“This is an excellent and much needed book. … it has world-wide relevance to specialists and on-specialists alike; an essential reference volume for everyone interested in polychaetes, myzostomes, pogonophores, echiurans and sipunculans.”
A.S.Y. Mackie (Journal of Natural History 35, 2001)


  • Describes all the polychaete families in a standardised format incorporating all the recent literature, except for a few minor families which do not occur in Australia or in New Zealand
  • Includes a glossary and keys
  • Written by 10 internationally recognised specialists
  • Covers Morphology & Physiology, Natural History, reproduction, Biogeography & Phylogeny, and History of Discovery.

This book is well illustrated with 65 colour and 150 black and white photographs as well as over 700 especially commissioned line drawings of all families and their diagnostic characters.




Author’s Contributions

Christopher J. Glasby, Patricia A. Hutchings, Kristian Fauchald, Hannelore Paxton, Gregory W. Rouse, Charlotte Watson Russell & Robin S. Wilson

Mark J. Grygier

Eve C. Southward

4. Phylum ECHIURA
Stanley J. Edmonds

Stanley J. Edmonds

Christopher J. Glasby, Kristian Fauchald & Patricia A. Hutchings