Solaster dawsoni Verrill, 1880
Common name(s): Dawson's sun star, Morning sun star
|Solaster dawsoni collected from near Northwest Island, WA. Scale is in centimeters|
|(Photo by: Dave Cowles, August 2005)|
How to Distinguish from Similar Species:Pycnopodia helianthoides grows larger, has more rays, has pedicellariae, and has obvious ossicles projecting from the aboral surface. Solaster stimpsoni has an orange or pink aboral surface with a grayish-blue streak radiating from the central disk out along each ray.
Geographical Range: Point Franklin, Alaska to Monterey Bay, CA (uncommon in central California)
Depth Range: Intertidal to 414 m (mostly subtidal)
Habitat: Usually on rocky bottoms, but sometimes on gravel or sand
Biology/Natural History: Solaster dawsoni is a predator on other seastars, including Solaster stimpsoni, other Solaster dawsoni, Leptasterias hexactis, Evasterias troschelii, Dermasterias imbricata, Henricia leviuscula, Crossaster papposus,Pycnopodia helianthoides, and Mediaster aequalis. It also has been seen to feed on the sea cucumbers Eupentacta quinquesemita, Psolus chitonoides, Cucumaria miniata, and young Parastichopus californicus, and on the nudibranch Tritonia festiva, which swims away rapidly when touched. Many other seastars also move away quickly when touched by S. dawsoni. S. dawsoni moves along with its leading rays raised, and lunges forward (at least fast for a seastar) when it touches another star. S. stimpsoni, one of its favorite prey species, curls all its arms upward above the disk when encountered and sometimes wards off the attack. In Auke Bay, Alaska, S. dawsoni seems to eat mainly green urchins Strongylocentrotus droebachiensis. The commensal polychaete scaleworms Arctonoe vittata and Arctonoe fragilis are common on the star. Spawning occurs in mid April in southern British Columbia. Eggs are about 1 mm in diameter. Juveniles often take refuge among the tubedwelling polychaete Phyllochaetopterus prolifica.
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Johnson and Snook, 1955
McConnaughey and McConnaughey, 1985
Morris et al., 1980
O'Clair and O'Clair, 1998
Ricketts et al., 1985
Larry R. and Benjamin G. Miner, 2006. Estimation and interpretation
of egg provisioning in marine invertebrates. Integrative and Comparative
Biology 46:3 pp 224-232
Some S. dawsoni have a color pattern on the aboral surface, but note there are no blue-gray stripes running down the rays.
A view of the oral side of S. dawsoni
Another view of the open mouth, this time underwater through aquarium glass.
The aboral ossicles or paxillae are well separated. These are magnified.
The ossicles along the edge of the ambulacral groove (which is at the top in this photo) are enlarged into marginal plates.
This S. dawsoni is swallowing a Leptasterias hexactis that it captured. Notice also the commensal Arctonoesp polychaete scaleworm on the ray.
This Solaster dawsoni (left) was found eating this Dermasterias imbricata on the right at low tide.
Photo by Brooke Reiswig, July 2006
A tiny Solaster dawsoni among hydroids. Underwater photo by Kirt Onthank, August 2007
This small individual is about 2.5 cm in total diameter. Photo by Dave Cowles, July 2012
The paxillae of the small individual shown above look different from those of adults. The sack-like prejections are papulae. Photo by Dave Cowles, July 2012
A closeup of the ray tips of the small individual above. Photo by Dave Cowles, July 2012