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Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Science (M.S.)


Graduate School

First Advisor

James A. Blake

First Committee Member

Steven Obrebski

Second Committee Member

Edmund H. Smith


Pygospio elegans Claparede (1863) is a relatively small, inconspicuous intertidal Spionid polychaete (10 to 15 mm in length) having approximately 50 to 60 body segments. The species occurs in high intertidal sand flats along the central California coast.

Pygospio elegans is one of three species of the genus Pygospio, with the other being, P. california Hartman (1936) which is found only along the central California coast and P. dubia Munro (1930), from Antarctic seas. P. elegans is the most cosmopolitan of the three species (Clay, 1967; Light, 1978). The species has been recorded from both sides of the Atlantic Ocean; in the western part from Nova Scotia to Massachusetts and in Europe from the Mediterranean to the Baltic, Norwegian Archipelago and Barents Sea. It has been cited from South Africa, in the North Pacific Ocean, from the Sea of Okhotsk and Prudhoe Bay, Alaska.

As a successful cosmopolitan species, P. elegans has demonstrated its ability to accomplish two objectives: (1) it has colonized new habitats and (2) it has been to withstand perturbations of its local habitat and become, in some cases numerically dominant. The purpose of this study was to investigate the ways and means by which P. elegans has been able to accomplish these objectives.



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