Overview

Brief Summary

Ecology

benthic, inshore, detritus feeder, deposit feeder (Rowe & Gates, 1995).
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Distribution

Range Description

This species can be found throughout the Western Central Pacific (Kinch et al. 2008), Asia (Choo 2008) and Africa and Indian Ocean regions (Conand 2008).
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Physical Description

Diagnostic Description

Description

General distribution: from East Africa to Polynesia (Tortonese, 1980); tropical, Indo-west Pacific Ocean, depth range reef flat to 5 m. (Rowe & Gates, 1995). Also distributed in SE Arabia, Ceylon, Bay of Bengal, East Indies, north Australia, Philippine, China, south Japan and South Pacific Is. (Clark & Rowe, 1971); Australia (Rowe & Gates, 1995).
  • Tortonese, E. (1980). Researches on the coast of Somalia. Littoral Echinodermata. Monitore zoologico italiano NS Supplemento XIII 5: 99-139.
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Ecology

Habitat

shallow waters, reef flats or frinding and lagoon-islet reefs, seagrass beds, rubble reef flats and compact flats (Conand, 1998)
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Habitat and Ecology

Habitat and Ecology
This species is found along outer reef flats (Skewes et al. 2004), in the littoral zone, and in estuaries and lagoons. This species dwells in moderately shallow waters, mostly on reef flats of fringing and lagoon-islet reefs. It can be abundant in seagrass beds, on rubble flats, and compact flats where populations can reach high densities (up to 1/m) (Conand 1998).

This species is found between 0-30 m depth, but is generally found in shallower waters to 12 m. It inhabits reef flats of fringing and lagoon-islets reefs, rubble reefs and compact flats (Kinch et al. 2008, Choo 2008, and Conand 2008), and lives exposed in the sea floor (Conand 2008). In Okinawa (Japan), the juveniles of this species preferred plate-like substrate types such as eroded limestone or dead coral plates (Wiedemeyer 1994).

This species reproduces sexually, usually during the warm season. It is a species of high potential fecundity and early sexual maturity.

In New Caledonia, this species reaches its peak spawning period between January and February, whilst it is more active in December in Papua New Guinea (Kinch et al. 2008) and weight at first maturity is 85 g (Conand 1982). In Southern Taiwan, it spawns between June and July (Chao et al. 1995). It can live more than 12 years (Kinch et al. 2008). In La Reunion, it presents an annual cycle with spawning between January and February and April and May (Muthiga et al. 2010).

The generation length of Actinopyga echinites is unknown. Body size is not a good indicator of age or longevity. There is some indication, however, that many echinoderms do not go through senescence, but simply regenerate. Therefore generation length cannot be estimated, but is assumed to be greater than several decades in a natural, undisturbed environment.


Systems
  • Marine
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Depth range based on 86 specimens in 1 taxon.
Water temperature and chemistry ranges based on 81 samples.

Environmental ranges
  Depth range (m): 0 - 121.9
  Temperature range (°C): 24.749 - 28.496
  Nitrate (umol/L): 0.033 - 0.732
  Salinity (PPS): 33.691 - 35.130
  Oxygen (ml/l): 4.436 - 4.680
  Phosphate (umol/l): 0.081 - 0.220
  Silicate (umol/l): 0.926 - 4.752

Graphical representation

Depth range (m): 0 - 121.9

Temperature range (°C): 24.749 - 28.496

Nitrate (umol/L): 0.033 - 0.732

Salinity (PPS): 33.691 - 35.130

Oxygen (ml/l): 4.436 - 4.680

Phosphate (umol/l): 0.081 - 0.220

Silicate (umol/l): 0.926 - 4.752
 
Note: this information has not been validated. Check this *note*. Your feedback is most welcome.

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Molecular Biology and Genetics

Molecular Biology

Barcode data: Actinopyga echinites

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


There are 4 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.

AGACGCTGACTATTTTCCACAAACCACAAGGACATAGGAACTCTATATTTAATTTTTGGTGCCTGAGCAGGTATGGTAGGTACTGCAATG---AGAGTTATTATTCGTACGGAGCTAGCCCAACCTGGATCACTACTGCAAGAC---GACCAGGTATACAAAGTAGTAGTAACAGCACATGCTTTAGTGATGATATTTTTTATGGTGATGCCAATAATGATAGGGGGATTCGGAAAATGACTTATTCCACTAATG---ATTGGAGCTCCAGATATGGCTTTTCCACGAATGAAAAAAATGAGATTCTGACTAGTCCCACCTTCTTTTATCCTTTTATTAGCTTCCGCTGGAGTAGAAAGAGGGGCCGGAACAGGTTGAACAATTTACCCACCACTATCCAGAAAAATTGCCCATGCAGGAGGATCCGTAGACCTA---GCAATATTTTCATTACACCTAGCTGGTGCTTCCTCTATACTAGCCTCAATAAAATTTATAACAACAATTATAAACATGCGAACTCCAGGTATTACTTTTGACCGACTTCCTTTATTTGTATGATCTGTCTTTATAACAGCATTTCTCCTTTTATTAAGACTACCAGTATTAGCCGGT---GCTATAACAATGTTGCTAACGGACCGTAATATAAAAACCACGTTCTTCGACCCAACAGGAGGGGGAGACCCCATACTATTCCAGCATCTATTTTGGTTTTTTGGCCACCCAGAAGTCTACATCCTTATCCTACCAGGGTTCGGTATGATATCACATGTAATAGCCCATTATAGAGGAAAGCAA---GAACCATTTGGATATTTAGGCATGGTTTACGCTATGGTAGCCATAGGGATATTAGGATTTCTTGTGTGAGCCCACCATATG
-- end --

Download FASTA File
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Statistics of barcoding coverage: Actinopyga echinites

Barcode of Life Data Systems (BOLDS) Stats
Public Records: 4
Specimens with Barcodes: 22
Species With Barcodes: 1
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Genomic DNA is available from 1 specimen with morphological vouchers housed at Field Museum of Natural History
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Conservation

Conservation Status

IUCN Red List Assessment


Red List Category
VU
Vulnerable

Red List Criteria
A2bd

Version
3.1

Year Assessed
2013

Assessor/s
Conand, C., Purcell, S. & Gamboa, R.

Reviewer/s
Polidoro, B., Harwell, H., Carpenter, K.E. & Knapp, L.

Contributor/s

Justification

This species is commercially exploited throughout its range, and is a medium value species that is relatively easy to collect (e.g. it is found in high abundance and on shallow seagrass beds and rubble reef flats). Based on a number of quantitative and qualitative studies, populations are estimated to be depleted and have declined by more than 60-90% in at least 50% of its range. It is also considered overexploited in at least 40% of its range although exact declines are difficult to estimate. The status of populations in East Africa are unknown, but it is known to be collected in this region. Declines and over-exploitation have occurred primarily since the 1960s, and although generation length is not known, echinoderms are not considered to go through senescence and therefore may be greater than several decades. At present, global declines are therefore estimated to be between 30-40% based on estimates of depletion and over-exploitation across its range. This species is therefore listed as Vulnerable.

However, better and more quantitative data are needed to better estimate the impact of fishing on this species. If other shallow water species continue to be fished out, effort for this species will probably increase even further.
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Population

Population
This species has been heavily depleted in South East Asia and parts of the South Pacific (India, Madagascar, Philippines, Indonesia, Papua New Guinea, New Caledonia), representing approximately 50% of the range. The status of the populations in East Africa and Red Sea are unknown but are assumed to be overexploited (40% of its range), such as in the Seychelles. Populations of this species in Australia (10% of range) are collected but are mostly unknown. Depletion refers to commercially non-viable, and estimated to represent an approximately 60-90% loss or greater over the past 50 years (since the 1960s). Shallow water distributions of this species are more heavily impacted. In areas where it is considered overexploited, population levels are difficult to estimate due to variation in regional and local fishing effort. However, harvests have significantly declined over the past 30-50 years, and based on traditional fisheries definitions, overexploited is estimated to be 30% above maximum sustainable yield.

In La Reunion it is found at maximum densities of 3 individuals/m2 (Conand 2008). This species also appears in the Seychelles catch data. CPUE data is available for New Caledonia with 118 individuals/diver/hour, Palau with 68 individuals/diver/hour and Central Papua New Guinea with 110 individuals/diver/hour. A joint CPUE for Actinopyga miliaris and A. echinites in Palau showed 68.2 sea cucumbers/diver/hour (Kinch et al. 2008). In Bolinao, Philippines there were 1.6 to 5 individuals per hectare in 2009 (Menez in press).



Population Trend
Decreasing
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Threats

Major Threats
Commercial harvest of this species is reason for concern in some of its range. Conand (2004) identified that this species was under population stress as a result of fisheries to satisfy the international trade. Later, Bruckner (2005) categorized this species as of concern in some countries of its range. Toral-Granda et al. (2008) includes this species as a species with significance in the global sea cucumber market.

Commercially it is of medium value. This species is targeted throughout its range, and fishing pressure has dramatically increased in the past 25 to 50 years since the 1960s, and is expected to continue, even as stocks are depleted. Although not one of the most important species (medium value) for fishery purposes, it can be expected that this species may become more popular after the depletion or reduction of other species of higher commercial importance and value.
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Management

Conservation Actions

Conservation Actions
In Papua New Guinea, regulations for the capture of this species include a minimum landing size, a fishing season, fishing permits, Total Allowable Catch (TAC) and gear restrictions (Toral-Granda 2007). In La Reunion, there is a fishing closure between December and January, and a minimum landing size of 50 g (Muthiga et al. 2010).

Although not species-specific protection, some countries of the Western Central Pacific, Asia, Africa and Indian Ocean regions have implemented area restrictions, bag limits, effort control, gear restriction, moratoriums, quotas, and size limits, as management and conservation measures for sea cucumber species, including this species (Kinch et al. 2008, Choo 2008, Conand 2008).

Better and more quantitative data are needed to better estimate the impact of fishing on this species.

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