Marine Biology

, Volume 148, Issue 1, pp 43–50 | Cite as

Biology of the basket star Gorgonocephalus caputmedusae (L.)

  • Rutger RosenbergEmail author
  • Samuel Dupont
  • Tomas Lundälv
  • Helen Nilsson Sköld
  • Alf Norkko
  • Josefin Roth
  • Thomas Stach
  • Mike Thorndyke
Research Article


Ophiurid basket stars belonging to the family Gorgonocephalidae are distributed from the Arctic to the Antarctic and from the shallow subtidal to the deep sea, but their biology remains poorly known. In situ observations at the mouth of the Oslofjord by a remotely operated vehicle showed that Gorgonocephalus caputmedusae had a patchy distribution at 85 to 120 m water depth and frequently occurred in association with the gorgonian Paramuricea placomus and the coral Lophelia pertusa. Morphological and histological studies show that G. caputmedusae is well adapted to capture macroplanktonic prey. Histological examination of the arms revealed the presence of a thick layer of dermal mutable connective tissue which is probably an energy-efficient way to maintain its feeding posture against the current. This layer is connected to the nerve cord suggesting that the passive mechanical properties (stiffness) is controlled by the nervous system. In the distal parts of the arms, each segment has a pair of sticky tube feet and a sophisticated system of spines and hooks, which are connected to muscles and collagenous tendons. In combination, these features were shown, in an experimental flume study, to be used for capturing the locally abundant krill species Meganyctiphanes norvegica. This is the first documentation of G. caputmedusae of this kind.


Nerve Cord Aboral Side Connective Tissue Layer Dermal Connective Tissue Flume Tank 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.



Financial support from C.F. Lundströms Stiftelse (to HNS), from Knut and Alice Wallenberg Foundation, the Swedish EPA (MARBIPP) and the County Govenor in Østfold and WWF (to TL). Funding was also received from EU, VR and BBSRC (to MCT)


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 2005

Authors and Affiliations

  • Rutger Rosenberg
    • 1
    Email author
  • Samuel Dupont
    • 2
  • Tomas Lundälv
    • 3
  • Helen Nilsson Sköld
    • 2
  • Alf Norkko
    • 1
  • Josefin Roth
    • 1
  • Thomas Stach
    • 2
  • Mike Thorndyke
    • 2
  1. 1.Department of Marine Ecology, Kristineberg Marine Research StationGöteborg UniversityFiskebackskilSweden
  2. 2.Kristineberg Marine Research StationRoyal Swedish Academy of SciencesFiskebackskilSweden
  3. 3.Tjärnö Marine Biological LaboratoryGöteborg UniversityStromstadSweden

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