A series of observations and an experiment were carried out to test hypotheses about the effects of shade on the densities of spirorbid polychaetes (Neodexiospira spp.) on intertidal pneumatophores (mangrove roots) of Avicennia marina. Densities of spirorbids were greater on pneumatophores surrounded by seagrass (Zostera mucronata) than patches without seagrass. Within patches of seagrass, the density and survivorship of spirorbids on pneumatophores was greater near the substratum (covered by seagrass) than high above the substratum (not covered by seagrass). The model that these patterns of abundance are explained by greater recruitment of spirorbids to shaded surfaces was assessed. This was done by experimentally testing the hypothesis that recruitment to patches without seagrass would not differ between the upper (unshaded) and lower surfaces (unshaded) of clear plastic sheets, but would be greater on the lower surfaces (shaded) than upper surfaces (unshaded) of black plastic sheets. Recruitment was consistent with these predictions and therefore provided evidence that differences in densities of spirorbids between substrata with and without seagrass may be due largely to differences in shading.