The present work analyzed three hard-bottom and two soft-bottom species of sabellid polychaetes to determine the content of several heavy metals in their branchial crown and body. The highest concentrations of heavy metals were recorded in the hard-bottom species Branchiomma bairdi, a recent Mediterranean introduction. Differences in the metal concentrations were most notable in the high trace metal levels of the branchial crown for all the studied species. Statistical analysis showed that the Mediterranean hard-bottom species were similar each other in their heavy metal content in the body as well as in the branchial crown and appeared separated from all the other species. Arsenic and vanadium hyperaccumulation in the branchial crowns of the considered sabellid species probably acts as a deterrent for predation. The observed differences among the examined species were discussed not only at the light of habitat colonization but also in terms of the phylogeny.
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