Overview

Comprehensive Description

Biology/Natural History: Prey includes mainly bivalves, including Clinocardium cockles, butter clams, littleneck clams, and geoduck clams; but also snails, sand dollars, barnacles, and tubicolous polychaetes; may scavenge dead fish and squid. The purple olive snail Olivella biplicata shows a strong escape response to this species (it buries itself), as does the sand dollar Dendraster excentricus. Known to feed on small Dungeness crabs in California. May fight with Pycnopodia helianthoides over food if they both encounter it. The tube feet next to the mouth can be extended many centimeters (up to the seastar's redius) to pull up bivalves from the sediment. May also dig in sediment after prey, which may take several days. The stomach may be everted up to 8 cm to digest prey in the shell. Spawns in spring and summer in Washington. A small snail, Balcis rutila, may be embedded in the body wall. A smaller subspecies (P. brevispinus subsp. paucispinus) lives in Tomales Bay in eelgrass, and has fewer spines.

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Source: Invertebrates of the Salish Sea

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This large seastar has 5 rays which are thickest near the central disk. Its aboral surface is spiny (photo), with the spines in networks, clusters, or single. It has pedicellariae. The spines are less than 2 mm long. The overall color is pink. May be up to 60 cm diameter.
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Source: Invertebrates of the Salish Sea

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Distribution

Geographical Range: Sitka, Alaska to La Jolla, CA

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Source: Invertebrates of the Salish Sea

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Physical Description

Type Information

Holotype for Asterias brevispina Stimpson, 1857
Catalog Number: USNM 1285
Collection: Smithsonian Institution, National Museum of Natural History, Department of Invertebrate Zoology
Preparation: Dry; Alcohol (Ethanol)
Collector(s): W. Stimpson
Locality: San Francisco Bay, Near Mouth Of Bay, California, United States, North Pacific Ocean
Depth (m): 18 to 18
  • Holotype: Stimpson. 1857. Boston J. Nat. Hist. 6: 528, pl. 23, fig. 3.
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© Smithsonian Institution, National Museum of Natural History, Department of Invertebrate Zoology

Source: National Museum of Natural History Collections

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Look Alikes

How to Distinguish from Similar Species: Pisaster ochraceous usually does not grow larger than 25 cm and may be ochre, brown, orange, or purple, plus its aboral spines are in a network. Evasterias troschelii has rays which are thickest just beyond their junction with the central disk and may be many colors, but is unlikely to be pink.
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Source: Invertebrates of the Salish Sea

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Ecology

Habitat

Depth range based on 61 specimens in 2 taxa.
Water temperature and chemistry ranges based on 47 samples.

Environmental ranges
  Depth range (m): -1 - 128
  Temperature range (°C): 6.625 - 13.115
  Nitrate (umol/L): 4.518 - 20.476
  Salinity (PPS): 31.460 - 33.605
  Oxygen (ml/l): 3.922 - 6.649
  Phosphate (umol/l): 0.729 - 2.100
  Silicate (umol/l): 6.430 - 51.234

Graphical representation

Depth range (m): -1 - 128

Temperature range (°C): 6.625 - 13.115

Nitrate (umol/L): 4.518 - 20.476

Salinity (PPS): 31.460 - 33.605

Oxygen (ml/l): 3.922 - 6.649

Phosphate (umol/l): 0.729 - 2.100

Silicate (umol/l): 6.430 - 51.234
 
Note: this information has not been validated. Check this *note*. Your feedback is most welcome.

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Depth Range: Very low intertidal (rarely) to 110 m. More common in bays than on the open coast.

Habitat: Sandy, muddy, or occasionally rocky bottoms or pilings

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Associations

Known prey organisms

Pisaster brevispinus preys on:
Parapholas californica
Kelletia kelletii

Based on studies in:
USA: California, Southern California (Marine)

This list may not be complete but is based on published studies.
  • R. J. Rosenthal, W. D. Clarke, P. K. Dayton, Ecology and natural history of a stand of giant kelp, Macrocystis pyrifera, off Del Mar, California. Fish. Bull. (Dublin) 72(3):670-684, from p. 683 (1974).
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Molecular Biology and Genetics

Molecular Biology

Barcode data: Pisaster brevispinus

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


There are 3 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.

AGACGATGATTATTTTCTACTAAACACAAGGACATCGGTACTCTTTATCTAATATTTGGAGCATGAGCTGGCATGATAGGCACTGCTATGAGCGTTATAATCCGCACTGAGCTTGCCCAACCCGGATCTCTTCTCCAAGAT---GACCAAATTTACAAAGTCATAGTAACCGCCCACGCTCTCGTAATGATATTTTTCATGGTAATGCCCATAATGATTGGGGGATTCGGTAAATGACTTATTCCTCTAATGATTGGGGCACCAGATATGGCATTTCCCCGAATGAAAAACATGAGATTTTGACTAATTCCCCCCTCCTTTCTTCTACTTCTAGCCTCCGCCGGAGTTGAAAGTGGAGCCGGCACTGGATGAACTATTTATCCCCCGCTATCCAGAGGCCTAGCCCACGCCGGCGGATCAGTTGACCTTGCCATATTTTCCCTTCATCTGGCCGGAGCCTCCTCTATACTAGCCTCCATCAACTTCATTACCACCATCATAAAAATGCGAACACCAGGCATGTCTTTTGACCGACTACCTTTATTTGTATGATCTGTTTTCGTTACTGCTTTTCTTTTACTCCTTTCCCTCCCCGTATTAGCTGGAGCAATCACAATGTTGTTGACAGACCGAAAAATTAAAACCACTTTTTTTGATCCTGCCGGTGGAGGTGACCCTATACTCTTCCAACACTTATTCNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNTATTCTCATCCTACCCGGATTCGGTATGATCTCTCACGTAATAGCCCACTATGCTGGTAAGAACGAACCCTTCGGATATCTGGGCATGGTATACGCAATTATTTCTATAGGGATACTAGGATTCCTTGTATGAGCTCACCATATGTTTACCGTTGGAATGGATGTTGACACACGRGCATACTTTACTGCCGCCACAATGATTATAGCTGTTCCAACAGGAATCAAGGTATTTAGATGAATGGCCACCCTTCAAGGAAGA---AAA
-- end --

Download FASTA File
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© Barcode of Life Data Systems

Source: Barcode of Life Data Systems (BOLD)

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Statistics of barcoding coverage: Pisaster brevispinus

Barcode of Life Data Systems (BOLDS) Stats
Public Records: 3
Specimens with Barcodes: 4
Species With Barcodes: 1
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Source: Barcode of Life Data Systems (BOLD)

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Genomic DNA is available from 2 specimens with morphological vouchers housed at Queensland Museum
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© Ocean Genome Legacy

Source: Ocean Genome Resource

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Wikipedia

Pisaster brevispinus

pink seastars bottom side

Pisaster brevispinus, commonly called the Pink Sea Star, Giant Pink Sea Star, or Short-spined Sea Star, is a Pacific Ocean sea star.

Description[edit]

The Pink Star can reach a diameter of two feet while weighing up to two pounds, and has spines less than 2 mm long. It has a soft, flabby texture that allows it to bend slightly to stay on coral.

P. brevispinus is usually found on sand or mud substrate where it catches its prey such as clams or sand dollars. Smaller individuals are sometimes seen on rocks or pilings where they prey on mussels, barnacles, and tube worms. This species is also known to scavenge on dead fish and squid. The giant pink sea star does not tolerate being out of water very well, so it is generally found on the beach only during very low tides. It usually lives at a depth of 180 metres (590 ft).

Reproduction and life cycle[edit]

Starfish commonly reproduce using a method called free-spawning. This means that they release their gametes into the water, where they will hopefully be fertilized by the gamete from the opposite sex. It is thought that groups, when they are ready to spawn, use environmental signals to coordinate their timing. Once fertilization has occurred the egg develops from an embryo into a larva which feeds on small algae. During its planktic period the larva proceeds through several developmental phases going from gastrula to bipinnaria to brachiolaria. Towards the end of the last stage the larva develops a large sack like structure, a primordium, and begins searching for a suitable surface on which to settle.

After settling into a home, the larva changes into a juvenile starfish. This process takes about 2 days. Initially the juvenile starfish has only 5 arms but additional arms develop rapidly as the starfish begins to feed on encrusting algae. At the end of 6 months the starfish is about 1 cm in size and begins to feed on corals. The starfish becomes sexually mature at the end of its second year by which time it has grown to about 20 cm in diameter. After 3–4 years (when the starfish is about 35 cm in size) it is thought to go into a senile phase where growth declines dramatically and reproduction is low. This phase has been identified only in the laboratory. It is not known how long starfish live however, they have been kept in aquaria for as long as 8 years.

In Popular Culture[edit]

The species Piaster brevispinus was made famous through the animated show Spongebob Squarepants. The main character, Spongebob, is the neighbor and best friend of Patrick Star, a pink starfish.

References[edit]


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