Microdistribution within a population ofAcrocnida brachiata (Montagu), (Echinodermata: Ophiuroidea) in Little Killary, west coast of Ireland
© Biologische Anstalt Helgoland 1998
Acrocnida brachiata (Montagu), like many other infaunal ophiuroids, has a penchant for gregariousness. In Little Killary, a small embayment on the west coast of Ireland, it colonises an extensive tract of sandy inshore ground (ca 7 m depth), at densities of 150–200 individuals/m2. In the course of a two-year study, variation in regular suction-sampling returns prompted a detailed study of the species distribution pattern. Towards this end, 256 contiguous and stratified core samples were taken along a line of transect, in May 1995. These showed randomness with respect to the population at large, but exposed an aggregated distribution for juveniles and adults separately, at different levels within the sediment. Juveniles formed wide, ‘loose’ patches in the surficial deposit, while adults formed smaller, denseer patches deeper within the sediment. It remains to be seen what this approach may expose, when applied in different seasons, or during different phases of the species life cycle.