Observations on the biology of Apatopygus recens (Echinoidea: Cassiduloida) around New Zealand



The biology of the New Zealand cassiduloid echinoid Apatopygus recens is reviewed in terms of its geographical distribution, sediment relationships, and associations with other echinoids. Observations were also made on the density and size-frequency distribution of an A. recens population at Croisilles* Harbour, Tasman Bay, and on the burrowing and feeding behaviour of specimens from this locality in an aquarium.

A. recens is a rapid and continuous deposit feeder which burrows completely beneath the surface of the coarse sediments with which it is characteristically associated. The construction of a respiratory burrow to the sediment surface was not observed and the species appears to rely entirely on an adequate interstitial water flow for its respiratory requirements. Two 24 mm long specimens each defaecated an average of 0·76 g dry wt of sediment/h which at the Croisilles Harbour habitat was equivalent to a population ingestion rate of about 7·6 g dry wt of sediment/m2/h.