Capitellid polychaetes are ubiquitous throughout the world’s oceans and are often encountered in high abundance. We used an extensive dataset of species abundance and distribution records of the
Capitella capitatacomplex, C. aciculata, C. jonesi, Heteromastus filiformis, Mediomastus ambiseta, and M. californiensisfrom Tampa Bay, Florida, USA, as a model system of closely related species filling a similar ecological niche. We sought to (1) characterize the spatial distribution of each species, (2) determine if a single species abundance modeling strategy could be applied to them all, and (3) assess environmental drivers of species distribution and abundance. We found that all species had a zero-inflated abundance distribution and there was spatial autocorrelation by bay regions. Lorenz curves were an effective tool to assess spatial patterns of species abundance across large areas. Bay segment, depth, and dissolved oxygen were the most important environmental drivers. Modeling was accomplished by comparing 6 different approaches: 4 generalized additive models (GAMs: Poisson, negative binomial, Tweedie, and zero-inflated Poisson distributions), hurdle models, and boosted regression trees. There was no single model with top performance for every species. However, GAM-Tweedie and hurdle models performed well overall and may be useful for studies of other benthic marine invertebrates.