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The Derwent River seastar: re-evaluation of a critically endangered marine invertebrate


O'Hara, TD and Mah, CL and Hipsley, CA and Bribiesca-Contreras, G and Barrett, NS, The Derwent River seastar: re-evaluation of a critically endangered marine invertebrate, Zoological Journal of the Linnean Society, 186 pp. 483-490. ISSN 0024-4082 (2019) [Refereed Article]

Copyright Statement

Copyright 2018 The Linnean Society of London

DOI: doi:10.1093/zoolinnean/zly057


The Derwent River seastar, ‘Marginaster’ littoralis (Echinodermata: Asteroidea), has been assessed as critically endangered owing to its highly restricted range within one estuary in Tasmania, Australia. However, there have been concerns about the validity and status of the species. Here, we use non-invasive X-ray computed tomography to review the morphology of the holotype. This reveals the presence of internal ossicles to strengthen the disc margin, a character that requires the taxonomic transfer of this species to the family Asterinidae, genus Patiriella. The presence of relatively long marginal spinelets (0.7–0.9 mm) reliably distinguishes this species from the invasive congeneric Patiriella regularis (0.2–0.35 mm). These findings remove doubt about the validity of the species; the recorded habitat and restricted range of Patiriella littoralis are not exceptional for an asterinid seastar. The weight of evidence suggests that it is an endemic species, rather than a transient exotic introduced to Tasmania via shipping or food importation. Its known habitat has been severely impacted by urbanization, poor water quality and invasive species. Targeted surveys in 1993 and 2010 failed to find this species, and it is highly probable that the Derwent River seastar is now extinct; one of the few documented recent marine invertebrate extinctions.

Item Details

Item Type:Refereed Article
Keywords:seastar, extinction, taxonomy, Derwent, Australia, echinoderms, ecology, evolution, rocky shores, taxonomic revision
Research Division:Biological Sciences
Research Group:Ecology
Research Field:Marine and estuarine ecology (incl. marine ichthyology)
Objective Division:Environmental Management
Objective Group:Terrestrial systems and management
Objective Field:Assessment and management of terrestrial ecosystems
UTAS Author:Barrett, NS (Associate Professor Neville Barrett)
ID Code:128412
Year Published:2019 (online first 2018)
Funding Support:Australian Research Council (LP150100761)
Web of Science® Times Cited:2
Deposited By:Ecology and Biodiversity
Deposited On:2018-09-20
Last Modified:2022-09-01

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