Overview

Distribution

Geographic Range

Linckia laevigata inhabits the tropical waters of the Indian and Pacific Oceans, from the western Indian Ocean to southeastern Polynesia.

Biogeographic Regions: oriental ; australian ; indian ocean; pacific ocean

  • Kochzius, M., C. Seidel, J. Hauschild, S. Kirchhoff, P. Mester, I. Meyer-Wachsmuth, A. Nuryanto, J. Timm. 2009. Genetic population structures of the blue starfish Linckia laevigata and its gastropod ectoparasite Thyca crystallina. Marine Ecology Progress Series, 396: 211-219.
  • Magsino, R., M. Juinio-Meñez, R. Ravago. 2000. Development and application of genetic markers for population structure analysis of the blue coral reef starfish, Linckia laevigata (Linn.) (Echinodermata: Asteroidea). Science Diliman, 12/2: 10-16.
  • Yamaguchi, M. 1977. Population structure, spawning, and growth of the coral reef asteroid Linckia laevigata (Linnaeus). Pacific Science, 31/1: 13-30.
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Physical Description

Morphology

Physical Description

Linckia laevigata is characterized by five cylindrical arms with a bright blue or light blue body color and yellow tube feet. Green, pink, and yellow colors have also been observed. Individuals can grow up to 30 to 40 centimeters across. These animals get their color from a blue pigment called linckiacyanin and some accessory yellow carotenoids. The starfish colors vary, depending on the exact ratio and combination of pigments in each individual.

Range mass: 11 to 16 g.

Range length: 30 (high) cm.

Other Physical Features: ectothermic ; heterothermic ; radial symmetry

Sexual Dimorphism: sexes alike

  • Williams, S., J. Benzie. 1993. Genetic consequences of long larval life in the starfish Linckia laevigata (Echinodermata: Asteroidea) on the Great Barrier Reef. Marine Biology, 117: 71-77.
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Diagnostic Description

Description

Colour in life: uniformly blue, grey, pink, purple or fawn. This contrasts with Pacific specimens from Palao examined by A.M. Clark where they were all shades of blue (Humphreys, 1981). Also distributed in Marshall Islands, Gilbert Islands, Guam, Solomon Islands, New Caledonia (Clark, 1954); Maldive area, Ceylon bay of Bengal, East Indies, north Australia, Philippine, China, south Japan, South Pacific Is. and Hawaiian Is. (Clark & Rowe, 1971); Australia (Rowe & Gates (1995) and Kalk (1958)); Lakshadweep (India)(Sastry, 1991). General distribution: tropical, Indo-Pacific Ocean, depth range 0-60 m. (Rowe & Gates (1995) and Kalk (1958)); East coast of Africa to Hawaiian Islands (Sastry, 1991). Ecology: benthic, inshore, continental shelf, coral reefs (Rowe & Gates, 1995).
  • Clark, A.M. and F.W.E. Rowe. (1971). Monograph of Shallow-water Indo-West Pacific Echinoderms. Trustees of the British Museum (Natural History): London. x + 238 p. + 30 pls.
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Ecology

Habitat

Individuals have been observed in shallow, multileveled areas in upper zones of sunny reefs and reef fringes in water temperatures from 22 to 26 degrees degrees Celsius. The blue sea star is extremely sensitive to changes in temperature, oxygen level, and pH.

Range elevation: N/A (high) m.

Range depth: 60 to <1 m.

Habitat Regions: tropical ; saltwater or marine

Aquatic Biomes: reef

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Depth range based on 142 specimens in 1 taxon.
Water temperature and chemistry ranges based on 99 samples.

Environmental ranges
  Depth range (m): 0.3 - 960
  Temperature range (°C): 21.141 - 28.770
  Nitrate (umol/L): 0.033 - 1.161
  Salinity (PPS): 33.803 - 37.646
  Oxygen (ml/l): 4.163 - 5.171
  Phosphate (umol/l): 0.074 - 0.294
  Silicate (umol/l): 0.903 - 4.493

Graphical representation

Depth range (m): 0.3 - 960

Temperature range (°C): 21.141 - 28.770

Nitrate (umol/L): 0.033 - 1.161

Salinity (PPS): 33.803 - 37.646

Oxygen (ml/l): 4.163 - 5.171

Phosphate (umol/l): 0.074 - 0.294

Silicate (umol/l): 0.903 - 4.493
 
Note: this information has not been validated. Check this *note*. Your feedback is most welcome.

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Trophic Strategy

Food Habits

Linckia laevigata, like other seastars, are opportunistic predators and scavengers. They invert their stomachs and begin to digest their food externally. Food items include dead animals, small invertebrates, and detritus.

Animal Foods: aquatic or marine worms; other marine invertebrates

Plant Foods: algae

Other Foods: detritus

Primary Diet: carnivore (Eats other marine invertebrates, Scavenger ); omnivore ; detritivore

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Associations

Ecosystem Roles

The blue sea star is mainly a scavenger, breaking down tissues of dead animals. Linckia laevigata is an obligate host for the limpet Thyca crystallina, which feeds on the hemolymph of the sea star. The shrimp Periclimenes soror, is also parasitic on L. laevigata.

Ecosystem Impact: biodegradation

Commensal/Parasitic Species:

  • Crandall, E., E. Jones, M. Muñoz, B. Akinronbi, M. Erdmann. 2008. Comparative phylogeography of two seastars and their ectosymbionts within the Coral Triangle. Molecular Ecology, 17: 5276–5290.
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Predation

The blue coloring of L. laevigata may warn potential predators of toxicity. Like other seastars, the blue seastar can use autonomy, or self-severance of a limb, to escape predation. Body parts lost to predators are regenerated.

Known Predators:

  • Pufferfishes
  • Triton shells, Charonia spp.
  • Harlequin shrimp, Hymenocera spp.
  • Sea anemones
  • Damselfish, Dascyllusaruanus spp.

  • Rideout, R. 1975. Toxicity of the asteroid Linckia laevigata (L.) to the damselfish Dascyllus aruanus (L.). Micronesica, 11: 153-154.
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Life History and Behavior

Behavior

Communication and Perception

Seastars lack a brain and also do not possess well-defined sensory network. However, they are sensitive to touch, light, the water that surrounds them, and orientation. The pedicellariae of the sea star aid in touch sensation as they function to free the organism of any sediments. The tube feet function as chemoreceptors and are used by the sea star to locate food.

Communication Channels: tactile ; chemical

Perception Channels: tactile ; chemical

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Life Cycle

Development

Fertilized Linckia laevigata eggs become larvae after a couple of days. The larvae spend about 28-30 days in the water column before settling onto a hard surface on the reef and metamorphosing into a tiny version of the adult star. The juvenile-to-adult transformation is estimated to take place at about 2 years of age. At this point, they are considered “mini adults” and continue to grow until reaching a length of about 30 centimeters.

Development - Life Cycle: metamorphosis

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Life Expectancy

Lifespan/Longevity

The blue seastar is known to live as long as 10 years in the wild. The mortality rate is high in captivity because this species requires precise conditions and attention to acclimation.

Range lifespan

Status: wild:
10 (high) years.

Typical lifespan

Status: wild:
10 (high) years.

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Reproduction

Though the sexes appear indistinguishable when observing this animal externally, the differences can be determined by observing the gonads or by examining the act of spawning when the male and female can be distinguished more readily. During the mating process, gametes are released freely into the water above the animals. Seastars gather in groups when they are prepared to mate to increase the probability of fertilization. If a male and female release gametes in close proximity, the eggs are fertilized. Mating generally occurs in the summer.

Mating System: polygynandrous (promiscuous)

Linckia laevigata spawns between May and August. This species may have a very low level of recruitment. One intensive study found only 10 offspring in one year class. Blue starfish also undergo asexual reproduction, which is the predominant form of reproduction in captivity. During asexual reproduction, the blue starfish divide through their disc, producing clones with identical genetic makeup.

Breeding interval: The blue sea star usually spawns once a year.

Breeding season: The blue sea star usually spawns from May to August.

Range gestation period: 28 to 30 days.

Range age at sexual or reproductive maturity (female): 2 (high) years.

Range age at sexual or reproductive maturity (male): 2 (high) years.

Key Reproductive Features: seasonal breeding ; sexual ; asexual ; fertilization (External ); broadcast (group) spawning

No parental investment is provided after gametes are released.

Parental Investment: pre-fertilization (Provisioning)

  • Magsino, R., M. Juinio-Meñez, R. Ravago. 2000. Development and application of genetic markers for population structure analysis of the blue coral reef starfish, Linckia laevigata (Linn.) (Echinodermata: Asteroidea). Science Diliman, 12/2: 10-16.
  • Williams, S., J. Benzie. 1993. Genetic consequences of long larval life in the starfish Linckia laevigata (Echinodermata: Asteroidea) on the Great Barrier Reef. Marine Biology, 117: 71-77.
  • Yamaguchi, M. 1977. Population structure, spawning, and growth of the coral reef asteroid Linckia laevigata (Linnaeus). Pacific Science, 31/1: 13-30.
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Molecular Biology and Genetics

Molecular Biology

Barcode data: Linckia laevigata

The following is a representative barcode sequence, the centroid of all available sequences for this species.


There are 269 barcode sequences available from BOLD and GenBank.  Below is a sequence of the barcode region Cytochrome oxidase subunit 1 (COI or COX1) from a member of the species.  See the BOLD taxonomy browser for more complete information about this specimen and other sequences.

ACACTTTATTTAATCTTTGGAGCGTGAGCCGGAATGGTAGGTACAGCAATG---AGGGTAATAATCCGAACGGAGTTGGCCCAGCCCGGTTCATTATTACAAGAT---GACCAAATTTACAAAGTTGTAGTAACAGCGCACGCTCTTGTGATGATTTTCTTCATGGTAATGCCTATAATGATAGGAGGATTTGGAAACTGACTTATCCCTCTAATG---ATAGGGGCGCCAGATATGGCGTTCCCACGAATGAACAAAATGAGCTTTTGACTTGTCCCTCCTTCATTCCTTCTACTTGTAGCCTCAGCCGGGGTAGAAAGAGGAGCTGGAACAGGATGAACTATTTACCCACCATTATCTAGTGGCCTCGCTCATGCTGGGGGATCAGTTGATCTT---GCCATATTTTCACTCCATCTAGCGGGTGCATCCTCTATTCTAGCATCAATAAATTTCATTACCACCGTTATAAATATGCGTACGCCAGGAATTTCATTTGACCGGTTACCTCTGTTCGTATGGTCAGTGTTCGTAACAGCCTTTCTCCTTCTTCTTTCCCTTCCAGTGCTCGCTGGA---GCAATAACAATGCTCCTAACGGATCGTAATGTCAACACAACTTTCTTCGACCCAGCCGGGGGTGGTGATCCTATCCTATTCCAGCACTTA------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------TTC
-- end --

Download FASTA File
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Statistics of barcoding coverage: Linckia laevigata

Barcode of Life Data Systems (BOLDS) Stats
Public Records: 269
Specimens with Barcodes: 288
Species With Barcodes: 1
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Genomic DNA is available from 3 specimens with morphological vouchers housed at El Colegio de la Frontera Sur, Chetumal
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Conservation

Conservation Status

This species is not listed under any conservation programs.

US Federal List: no special status

CITES: no special status

State of Michigan List: no special status

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Relevance to Humans and Ecosystems

Benefits

Economic Importance for Humans: Negative

There are no known adverse effects of L. laevigata on humans.

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Economic Importance for Humans: Positive

Blue sea stars are used for decoration and for personal aesthetics (personal aquariums and decorations when they are dried out). They are popular among tourists and in the aquatic life industry.  The blue seastar is also being tested as an inexpensive source of potential anti-tumor and antibacterial agents.

Positive Impacts: pet trade ; source of medicine or drug

  • Mojica, E., R. Layson, M. Rodil, C. Deocaris. 2003. Marine invertebrates as source of potential anti-tumor and antibacterial agents. 8th Southern Luzon Zonal R & D Review, DLSU, 1: 1-11.
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Wikipedia

Linckia laevigata

Linckia laevigata (sometimes called the "blue Linckia" or blue star) is a species of sea star (commonly known as a starfish) in the shallow waters of tropical Indo-Pacific (a biogeographic region of the Earth's seas, comprising the tropical waters of the Indian Ocean, the western and central Pacific Ocean, and the seas connecting the two in the general area of Indonesia). The variation ("polymorphism", in this case, a "color morph") most commonly found is pure, dark, or light blue, although observers find the aqua, purple, or orange variation throughout the ocean. These sea stars may grow up to 30 cm (11.8 in) in diameter, with rounded tips at each of the arms; some individuals may bear lighter or darker spots along each of their arms. Individual specimens are typically firm in texture, possessing the slightly tubular, elongated arms common to most of other members of the family Ophidiasteridae, and usually possessing short, yellowish tube feet. An inhabitant of coral reefs and sea grass beds, this species is relatively common and is typically found in sparse density throughout its range. Blue stars live subtidally, or sometimes intertidally, on fine (sand) or hard substrata and move relatively slow (mean locomoation rate of 8.1 cm/min).[1]

The genus Linckia, as is true of other species of starfish, is recognized by scientists as being possessed of remarkable regenerative capabilities, and endowed with powers of defensive autotomy against predators:[citation needed] Although not yet documented, L. laevigata may be able to reproduce asexually, as does the related species Linckia multifora (another denizen of tropical seas, but of differing coloration, i.e., pink or reddish mottled with white and yellow, which has been observed reproducing asexually in captivity).[citation needed] Linckia multifora produces 'comets', or separated arms, from the mother individual; these offspring proceed to grow four tiny stubs of arms ready for growth to maturity. L. laevigata is apparently not an exception to this behavior, as many individuals observed in nature are missing arms or, on occasion, in the comet form.[citation needed]

Some species of other reef inhabitants prey on this species of sea star. Various pufferfishes, Charonia species (triton shells), harlequin shrimp, and even some sea anemones have been observed to eat whole or parts of the sea stars.[2] The Blue Linckia is also prone to parasitization by a species of the parasitic gastropod Thyca crystallina.[citation needed] Commensal associations sometimes play part on this echinoderm's life; animals such as Periclimenes shrimp are sometimes found commensally on the oral or aboral surface of the animal, picking up mucus and detritus.[citation needed]

This sea star is fairly popular with marine aquarium hobbyists, where it requires a proper, slow acclimatization before entering the tank system, and an adequate food source similar to that found in its natural habitat. Generally thought of[according to whom?] as a detritivore, many sources[citation needed] maintain that this species will indefinitely graze throughout the aquarium for organic films or sedentary, low-growing organisms such as sponges and algae. Depending on how abundant the food source is, as well as such factors as the conditions of shipping, acclimatization, and water quality, this species has been kept in captivity with variable success. This species has yet to be bred in captivity for sustainable harvest.

This species has long been a staple of the sea-shell trade, which involves marketing dried sea star tests (skeletons) for curios or decoration. Some regions of their habitat have seen significant population decline due to the continuous harvesting by the sea-shell and tourism industries.

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Mueller B, AR Bos, G Graf and GS Gumanao (2011). "Size-specific locomotion rate and movement pattern of four common Indo-Pacific sea stars (Echinodermata; Asteroidea)". Aquatic Biology 12: 157–164. doi:10.3354/ab00326. 
  2. ^ Bos AR, B Mueller and GS Gumanao (2011). "Feeding biology and symbiotic relationships of the Corallimorpharian Paracorynactis hoplites (Anthozoa: Hexacorallia)". The Raffles Bulletin of Zoology 59 (2): 245–250. 
  • Shimek R.L.; Marine Invertebrates: 500+ Essential-to-Know Aquarium Species; T.F.H. Publications; New Jersey; ISBN 1-890087-66-1
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