Marine Biology

, Volume 84, Issue 2, pp 135–142 | Cite as

Feeding and related morphological structures in the dendrochirote Aslia lefevrei (Holothuroidea: Echinodermata)

  • J. Costelloe
  • B. F. Keegan


The dendrochirote holothuroid Aslia lefevrei (Barrois, 1882), forms dense aggregations [>70 individuals (m-2)-1] within two epibenthic associations on the west coast of Ireland. The holothuroid is a reophilic suspension feeder, utilizing 8 large and 2 small dendritic tentacles in the feeding process. Each tentacle tip terminates in fleshy nodes with 2 to 10 retractile papillate regions containing from 10 to 40 papillar bodies, among which are interspersed small numbers of cilia. Histological observations indicate the presence of secretory bodies both in the papillar regions of the tentacle and interspersed among the epithelial cells of the pharynx. Entrapment of seston on the adhesive papillae appears to be the principal mode of tood capture in A. lefevrei. Besides a suggested chemosensory capacity, the holothuroid seems to be mechanoresponsive to a loading factor on the tentacle tips. The sequence in the usage of the large tentacles of A. lefevrei shows some indication of repetition by individuals, but lacks any basic pattern between individuals. Whilst the same tentacle will not be inserted into the mouth twice in succession, adjacent tentacles often follow each other. Neighbouring and contiguous individuals allow their tentacles to intermesh without, apparently, interfering with the feeding process. Seasonal torpor in the feeding behaviour of A. lefevrei is tentatively interpreted as reflecting temperature-depressed metabolism and refuge-seeking from turbulent conditions.


Epithelial Cell West Coast Morphological Structure Turbulent Condition Basic Pattern 
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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 1984

Authors and Affiliations

  • J. Costelloe
    • 1
  • B. F. Keegan
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of ZoologyUniversity College GalwayGalwayIreland

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