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You are here:   OldClasses > 2012 > Ophioplocus imbricatus | Emma Ceccato




Ophioplocus imbricatus
(Müller & Troschel 1842)

                        Emma Ceccato (2012)



Fact Sheet



Physical Description

Colouration and Markings

Size and Biometrics


Local Description

Micro-habitat and Associations

Life History & Behaviour




Anatomy & Physiology

External Morphology

Internal Anatomy

Evolution & Systematics

Fossil Record

Evolution and Origins

Classification and Systematics

Biogeographic Distribution

Conservation & Threats

References & Links



Diversity of feeding strategies in Ophiuroidea

Ophiuroids employ a wide range of feeding strategies including suspension-feeding, deposit-feeding, scavenging and predation (Stohr et al. 2012). Due to the lack of anus in brittle stars these strategies are intended to increase selective intake of nutrients (Stohr et al. 2012). Few studies have been conducted on feeding in ophiuoids although it is known that some species exhibit alternate feeding strategies and diet (Stohr et al. 2012). Some brittle stars are carnivorous such as Ophiura ophiura which feeds on epibenthic fauna (Boos et al. 2001). In contrast, Ophiura albida and Ophiura sarsii have been shown to feed on infaunal prey as well as scavenge carrion ingesting seafloor organic matter (Boos et al. 2001). The Antarctic species, Ophiosparte gigas has been observed to actively predate on prey ranging from at least ten different phyla (Dearborn et al. 1996). Omnivorous species also exist including Ophionereis reticula which feed on both algae and poychaetes, while also employing deposit feeding as well as scavenging (Yokoyama 2008).

Inferences of feeding mode employed by O.imbricatus

Based on the variety of feeding modes demonstrated by brittle star in the literature; scavenging, predation, suspension and deposit-feeding as are all possible feeding strategies that could be exhibited by O.imbricatus. Literature is lacking in regards to feeding of this species as well as the genus. O.imbricatus is a small brittle star that inhabits reef crest areas of the tropical Great Barrier Reef, its microhabitat is characterised as areas beneath coral boulders in association with coralline algae, anthozoans, sponges and ascidians. From looking into the anatomy and ecology of the animal the feeding mode may be inferred.

The species does not appear to move at a significant pace with an average speed of 3.31 cm/sec (±0.31) across sand, indicating it may not be an effective predator (see Locomotion for more information). Suspension feeding can also be discounted due to the robustness of the arms that don’t appear to be adapted for this mode of feeding. O.imbricatus also lack specialised tube feet present in the suspension-feeding amphiurids (Woodley 1975). Due to the lack of a true anus, brittle stars do not have the ability to turn over large amounts of sediment therefore deposit-feeding in this species may not be likely. By process of elimination it can be suggested that O.imbricatus may display scavenging feeding habits. This is further supported by the general body plan which seems to indicate the creeping behaviour between rocks in search for food while its beige colouration allows the animal to remain camouflage against the sand.



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