Aphelasterias japonica


Scientific Name: Aphelasterias japonica

Phylum: Echinodermata

Class: Asteroidea

Order: Forcipulatida

Family: Asteriidae

Genus: Aphelasterias


japonica [Describe here as A. iricolor]

Native Distribution

Origin Realm:

Temperate Northern Pacific

Native Region:

Origin Location:

Temperate Northern Pacific [Japan and adjacent sea] From Sakhalin to central Honshu. (Saba et al. 2002) STATED Vladivostok, Russia (Moshchenko & Zvyaginstev 2010) STATUS NOT STATED Dokdo, Republic of Korea (Ryu et al. 2012) STATUS NOT STATED Vostok Bay, Sea of Japan (Vassetzky et al. 1983; Davydov et al. 1988) STATUS NOT STATED Pos'et Bay, Western Peter the Great Bay, Sea of Japan (Kishin et al. 2000) STATUS NOT STATED Koz’mina Bay and Nakhodka Bay, Sea of Japan (Kashin et al. 2003) STATUS NOT STATED Asamushi Bay, Japan (Nakachi et al. 2006) STATUS NOT STATED East Sea, Korea Strait, and Yellow sea, Korea; Sea of Japan, Toyama Bay, Thruga and Hokkaido, Japan; Sakhalin; Tatar Strait; Aniba Bay (Shin 1995) STATUS NOT STATED Tomarihama, Oshika Peninsula, along the Sanriku Coast of Japan (Won et al. 2013) STATUS NOT STATED Vostok Gulf, Sea of Japan (Latyshev et al. 2001) STATUS NOT STATED Peter the Great Bay, Sea of Japan (Kashin et al. 2000) STATUS NOT STATED [Japan and adjacent sea] Oshoro, Muroran, Nemuro in Hokkaido; Aniwa Bay and Busse Lake in Saghalien; Mutsu Bay, Toyama Bay and Tokyo Bay. (Hayashi 1943) STATUS NOT STATED [Japan and adjacent sea] At the west coast of Peshi-misaki Point, and at the south of the ferry terminal of Oshidomari Port, Rishiri Island, Hokkaido. (Komatsu et al. 2007) STATUS NOT STATED [Japan and adjacent sea] Off the coast of Yokohama Town, Mutsu Bay, Aomori Prefceture. (Sato et al. 1994) STATUS NOT STATED [Japan and adjacent sea] Off the coast of Odanozawa, Aomori Prefecture. (Aomori Prefecture 2013) STATUS NOT STATED [Japan and adjacent sea] Along the coast of Yamagata Prefecture facing the Japan Sea at northern Japan. (Suzuki 1979) STATUS NOT STATED [Japan and adjacent sea] Osaka Bay. (Association for the Research of Littoral Organisims in Osaka Bay (1993, 2007) STATUS NOT STATED

Geographic Range:

129.699996948242 36.6999969482422,158.100006103516 53.1000022888184 (OBIS 2016) Tatar Strait to Yellow Sea, Korea (Shin 1995)

General Diversity:


Non-native Distribution

Invasion History:

No records of invasion (Global Invasive Species Database 2015)

Non-native Region:

Not applicable

Invasion Propens:

Not applicable

Status Date Non-native:

Not applicable

Vectors and Spread

Initial Vector:

Not applicable

Second Vector:

Not applicable

Vector Details:

Not applicable

Spread Rate:

Not applicable

Date First Observed in Japan:

Not applicable

Date First Observed on West coast North America:

Not applicable


Impact in Japan:

In spite of native species in Japan, it is known that A. j. have caused damage to shellfish culture in Japan. (Saba et al. 2002)

Global Impact:

Not applicable


Native Temperature Regime:

See details

Native Temperature Range:

Low-boreal subzone of the Pacific Ocean (northern temperate zone) (Kussakin 1977) Surface temperature off the coast of Odanozawa, Aomori Prefecture is 21.7 ºC - 23.0 ºC in August, 2012. (Aomori Prefecture 2015)

Non-native Temperature Regime:

Not applicable

Non-native Temperature Range:

Not applicable

Native Salinity Regime:


Native Salinity Range:

Surface salinity off the coast of Odanozawa, Aomori Prefecture is 33.7 - 33.8 psu in August. (Aomori Prefecture 2013)

Non-native Salinity Regime:

Not applicable

Temperature Regime Survival:

See details

Temperature Range Survival:

Temperature of more than 25 ºC has a fatal impact to A. j. as well as Asterias amurensis causing its slow movement and muscle relaxation. (Uchida & Hayashi 1974)

Temperature Regime Reproduction:

See details

Temperature Range Reproduction:

[Peter the Great Bay, Sea of Japan] Oocyte fusion experiments were performed at 13 - 17 ºC (Vassetzky et al. 1983) [Peter the Great Bay, Sea of Japan] Oocyte fusion experiments were performed at 17 - 18 ºC (Vassetzky et al. 1984)

Salinity Regime Survival:

Polyhaline, Euhaline

Salinity Range Survival:

Polyhaline, Euhaline (M. Otani, pers. comm.) [RELATED] Because low salinity may cause fatal body dilation by the water permeation through the tissue, in general, asteroids do not live in brackish waters. (Uchida & Hayashi 1974) Asterias vulgaris cannot torelate the salinity of 14/1,000 and A. forbesi cannot torelate that of 18/1,000. (Uchida & Hayashi 1974)

Salintiy Regime Reproduction:

Polyhaline, Euhaline

Salinity Range Reproduction:

Polyhaline, Euhaline (M. Otani, pers. comm.) RELATED: [Asterias rubens] Although it is said that Asterias rubens can live in the salinity of 8/1,000, it is assumed that they cannot reproduce for the body dilation by the water permeation and small body size on such a condition. (Uchida & Hayashi 1974)

Depth Regime:

Lower intertidal, Shallow subtidal, Deep subtidal, Bathyal

Depth Range:

Sampled from 24 m depth (OBIS 2016) Collected from 5 - 20 m (Davydov et al. 1988) 1.3 - 8.4 m (Kashin et al. 2000) Subtidal, down to 3.2-2.6 m depth (Kashin et al. 2003) Lower intertidal zone (Kussakin 1977) [Japan] Otaru, Hokkaido: intertidal zone. (Uchida & Hayashi 1974) [Japan] Off the coast of Yokohama Town, Mutsu Bay, Aomori Prefecture: 5 - 20 m. (Sato et al. 1994) [Japan] Along the coast of Yamagata Prefecture, northen Japan: 53 - 300 m. (Suzuki 1979)

Non-native Salinity Range:

Native Abundance:

Abundant, Common, See details


Fertilization Mode:


Reproduction Mode:


Spawning Type:


Development Mode:

Planktotrophic planktonic larva (feeding)

Asexual Reproduction:

See details

Reproduction Details:

Dipleurula is 230 µm long (Davydov et al. 1988) Ovaries and testes (Seitkalieva et al. 2015) RELATED: [Class Asteroidea] Planktotrophic (Chia et al. 1993) [Class Asteroidea] Broadcast spawners, generally; external fertilization (Chia et al. 1993) [Class Asteroidea] Asexual reproduction often by fission (Smith & Armistead 2014)

Adult Mobility:

Actively mobile (Mobility is a normal part of at least part of the adult life cycle - at least in spurts. Not dependent upon distance traveled)

Adult Mobility Details:

Mobile (Ryu et al. 2012)

Maturity Size:


Maturity Age:


Reproduction Lifespan:




Broods per Year:


Reproduction Cues:

Gamete release was stimulated by 1-methyl-adenine (Davydov et al. 1988; Nakachi et al. 2006) 1-methyladenine induces oocyte maturation (Kanatani 1969, cited in Vessetzky et al. 1983)

Reproduction Time:

[Asamushi Bay, Japan] September and October (Nakachi et al. 2006; Hirohashi et al. 2008) [Peter the Great Bay, Sea of Japan] Spawning takes place August and September (Kasyanov et al. 1976, 1980, cited in Vassetzky et al. 1983) Early October to late November. (Tuchiya & Osanai 1978) [Mutsu Bay] From October to early November. (Komatsu & Yamanishi 2000) [Iwate Prefecture, Japan] From November to March (Takeichi et al. 1981, cited in Hoshikawa 2003)


RELATED: [Aphelasterias geponico] 1.5 million eggs per breeding season (Kasyanov et al. 1980, cited in Chia et al. 1993)

Egg Size:

150 µm (Davydov et al. 1988) Approximately 135 µm in Mutsu Bay, Japan. (Komatsu & Yamanishi 2000) RELATED: [Class Asteroidea] 100 - 200 µm (Chia et al. 1993)

Egg Duration:

20 hours after fertilization hatching takes place. (Komatsu & Yamanishi 2000)

Early Life Growth Rate:

Dipleurula develops into early bipinnaria on the 4 - 5th day (Davydov et al. 1988) Three and one half days after fertilization, the embryo develops into early bipinnaria stage. One month after fettilization, bipinnariae are transformed into a brachiolaria. The size of full grown brachiolaria is 2.5 mm long. Three monts after fertilization, metamorphosis takes place. Newly metamorphosed juveniles are 900 µm in diameter. (Komatsu & Yamanishi 2000)

Adult Growth Rate:


Population Growth Rate:


Population Variablity:




Sediment subtidal, Rocky intertidal, Rocky subtidal, Oyster reef, Mussel reef, Kelp forest, Macroalgal beds, Coralline algae

Habitat Type:

Epibenthic, Epizoic


Mud, Sand, Gravel, Rock, Biogenic, Artificial substrate



Habitat Expansion:


Habitat Details:

Oyster reef (Crassostrea gigas) (Kashin et al. 2000) Laminaria japonica community; L. japonica and Costaria costata assemblage; Halocynthia aurantium (tunicate) and Pseudopotamilla occelata (polychaete) assemblage; mussel (Mytilus trossulus) and Balanus crenatus assemblage (Kashin et al. 2003) Wave exposed, rocky coast; lower intertidal zone (Kussakin 1977) Crustose coralline algae bed; kelp bed (Won et al. 2013) [Japan] Pebbly area at Asamushi, Aomori Prefecture. (Tsuchiya & Osanai 1978) [Japan] Mud, sand and mud, or coarse sand by region off the coast of Yamagata Prefecture. (Suzuki 1979) [Japan] Rocky bottom from intertidal zone to 100 m. (Saba et al. 2002) [Japan] Found frequently in the octopus trap at Ise Bay, the Pacific side of central Honshu. (Saba et al. 2002)

Trophic Level:


Trophic Details:

Carnivorous, but can use other food sources (Latyshev et al. 2001)

Forage Mode:


Forage Details:

Carnivorous, but can use other food sources (Latyshev et al. 2001) Consume Haliotis discus (Won et al. 2013)

Natural Control:


Associated Species:

EPIBIONT [Epibiont] Host for the scaleworm Arctonoe vittata (Martin & Britayev 1998) [Epibiont] Host of the copepod Scottomyzon gibberum (Kim 1992)

References and Notes


Aomori Prefecture (2013) The report of the impact assessment of thermal discharge at Higashi-dori nuclear power plant. Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries Department in Aomori Prefecture: 1-79. (in Japanese) http://www.pref.aomori.lg.jp/soshiki/nourin/sshinko/files/2014-0707-1815.pdf Association for the Research of Littoral Organisms in Osaka Bay (1993) Rocky shore macrobiota of southeastern Osaka Bay: Results of surveys carried out in the years 1986 - 1990. Shizenshi-Kenkyu 2: 129-141. (in Japanese with English abstract) Association for the Research of Littoral Organisms in Osaka Bay (2007) Rocky shore macrobiota of southeastern Osaka Bay: Results of surveys carried out in the years 2001 - 2005. Shizenshi-Kenkyu 3: 93-106. (in Japanese with English abstract) Chia FS, Oguro C, Komatsu M (1993) Sea-star (Asteroid) Development. Oceanography and Marine Biology, An Annual Review 31: 223-257. https://books.google.ca/books?hl=en&lr=&id=FWXuFTGsn8YC&oi=fnd&pg=PA221&dq=Aphelasterias+spawn&ots=ABYpay6pWV&sig=twwgR57bEyCWSzNwzgO8zi8xJ7s#v=onepage&q=aphelasterias&f=false Davydov PV, Shubravi OI, Vassetzky SG (1988) Larval Development of Starfishes as Revealed by Long-term Culture of the Embryos. Development, Growth & Differentiation 30(5): 463-469. onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1111/j.1440-169X.1988.00463.x/abstract Global Invasive Species Database. http://www.issg.org/database/species/search.asp?sts=sss&st=sss&fr=1&x=20&y=7&sn=Aphelasterias+japonica&rn=&hci=-1&ei=-1&lang=EN Access date: 21-10-2015 and 21-10-2015 Hayashi R (1943) Contributions to the classification of the sea-stars of Japan.:Ⅱ. Forcipulata, with the note on the relationships between the skeletal structure and respiratory organs of the sea-stars. Journal of the Faculty of Science, Hokkaido University. Series 6, Zoology 8: 133-281. http://eprints.lib.hokudai.ac.jp/dspace/handle/2115/27045 Hirohashi N, Kamei N, Kubo H, Sawada H, Matsumoto M, Hoshi M (2008) Egg and sperm recognition systems during fertilization. Develop. Growth Differ. 50: S221-S238. www.researchgate.net/profile/Midori_Matsumoto/publication/5355016_Egg_and_sperm_recognition_systems_during_fertilization/links/0deec51dc223119396000000.pdf Hosihkawa H (2003) Laboratory observations of by predation of three starfishes and one crab on hatchery reared juveniles of the abalone Haliotis discus hanaii. Science Report of the Hokkaido Fisheries Experimental Station 64: 121-126. (in Japanese with English abstract) https://www.hro.or.jp/list/fisheries/marine/att/awabi.pdf Kashin IA, Bagaveeva EV, Chaplygina SF (2003) Fouling Communities of Hydrotechnical Constructions in Nakhodka Bay (Sea of Japan). Russian Journal of Marine Biology 29(5): 267-283. link.springer.com/article/10.1023/A:1026399826165 Kashin IA, Zvyagintsev AYu, Maslennikov SI (2000) Fouling of Hydrotechnical Structures in Western Peter the Great Bay, Sea of Japan. Biology of Fouling 26(2): 89-97. link.springer.com/article/10.1007/BF02759520 Kim IH (1992) Two species of Copepoda (Poecilostomatoida, Siphonostomatoida) associated with Asteroida in Korea. Korean Journal of Systematic Zoology Special Issue 8(1): 57-67. www.dbpia.co.kr/Journal/ArticleDetail/NODE01804581 Komatsu M et al. (2007) Echinoderms in the littoral region of Rishiri Island. Rishiri Research 26: 1-14. (in Japanese with English abstract) http://www.town.rishiri.hokkaido.jp/rishiri/secure/4639/2601.pdf Komatsu M & Yamanishi H. (2000) Development of the sea star, Aphelasterias japonica. Zoological Science 17 (Supplement): 86. Kussakin OG (1977) Intertidal ecosystems of the seas of the USSR. Tidal Ecosystems 30(1): 243-262. link.springer.com/article/10.1007/BF02207839 Latyshev NA, Khardin AS, Kiyashko SI (2001) Fatty Acids As Markers of Starfish Food Sources. Doklady Biological Sciences 380(1): 489-491. link.springer.com/article/10.1023%2FA%3A1012391909338?LI=true Martin D & Britayev TA (1998) Symbiotic polychaetes: Review of known species. Oceanography and Marine Biology: An Annual Review 36: 217-340. https://books.google.ca/books?hl=en&lr=&id=4TpzaKe8dl0C&oi=fnd&pg=PA217&dq=%22Aphelasterias+japonica%22&ots=X3o4pK3JBQ&sig=a4FNeTrdK4Ns78HEfDTwlZieWKs#v=onepage&q=%22Aphelasterias%20japonica%22&f=false Moshchenko AV & Zvyagintsev AY (2010) Macrofouling communities in the cooling system of the Vladivostok heat and power plant. Ocean Science Journal 45(1): 41-54. link.springer.com/article/10.1007%2Fs12601-010-0004-5 Nakachi M, Moriyama H, Hoshi M, Matsumoto M (2006) Acrosome reaction is subfamily specific in sea star fertilization. Developmental Biology 298(2): 597-604. www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0012160606009912 Nomura et al. (2001) Seasonal Changes of the Subtidal Algal and Zoobenthic Communities in the Southwest Coast of Hokkaido. Report of the Marine Ecology Researh Institute 3: 1-12. (in Japanese with English abstract) http://www.kaiseiken.or.jp/publish/reports/lib/2001_03_01.pdf OBIS. Ocean Biogeographic Information System. http://iobis.org/mapper/ Access date: 07-01-2016 Ryu SH et al. (2012) Biodiversity of marine invertebrates on rocky shores of Dokdo, Korea. Zoological Studies 51(5): 710-726. www.researchgate.net/publication/257303611_Biodiversity_of_marine_invertebrates_on_rocky_shores_of_Dokdo_Korea Saba M et al. (2002) Sea stars and brittle stars in Japanese waters. Tosho Insatsu Co. Ltd., Tokyo: 135pp. (in Japanese) Sato et al. (1994) On the distribution of macrobenthos off the coast Yokohama Town, Aomori Prefecture. Annual Report of Aquaculture Center Aomori Prefecture 23: 215-220. (in Japanese) http://jsnfri.fra.affrc.go.jp/pref/aomori/zoshoku/jigyo/23/215-220.pdf Seitkalieva AV, Menzorova NI, Rasskazov VA (2015) Phosphatases of echinoderms and bivalve mollusks of the Japan and Okhotsk seas. Comparative Biochemistry 41(1): 51-59. link.springer.com/article/10.1134/S1063074015010071 Shin S (1995) A Systematic Study on the Asteroidea in the East Sea, Korea. Korean Journal of Systematic Zoology 11(2): 243-263. www.dbpia.co.kr/Journal/ArticleDetail/NODE01801662 Smith KR & Armistead CE (2014) Benthic Invertebrates of the Eastern Bering Sea: A Synopsis of the Life History and Ecology of the Sea Star Asterias amurensis NOAA Technical Memorandum NMFS-AFSC-273. https://www.afsc.noaa.gov/Publications/AFSC-TM/NOAA-TM-AFSC-273.pdf Suzuki S (1979) Catalogue of marine invertebrate animals in Yamagata Prefecture. Tamakibi-kai: 1-370. (in Japanese) Tsuchiya M & Osanai K (1978) Experimental marine organisms collected o the neighborhood of the Asamushi Marine Biological Station. Bulletin of the Marine Biological Station of Asamushi 16: 29-58. Uchida T & Hayashi R (1974) Asteroidea. In: Animal systematics. Uchida T (ed.) Nakayama-shoten Co. Ltd., Tokyo: 82-141. (in Japanese) Vassetzky SG, Sekirina GG, Veisman BL, Skoblina MN, Bilinkis AA (1983) The fusion of oocytes of the starfish Aphelasterias japonica. II. The capacity of cell hybrids for maturation and cleavage. Cell Differentiation 12(2): 73-76. www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/0045603983900581 Vassetzky SG, Sekirina GG, Veisman BL, Skoblina MN, Bilinkis AA (1984) The fusion of oocytes of the starfish Aphelasterias japonica III. Reconstruction of oocytes from cells and cell fragments (cytoplasts). Cell Differentiation 14(1): 47-52. www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/0045603984900071 Won NI, Kawamura T, Takami H, Watanabe Y (2013) Trophic structure in natural habitats of the abalone Haliotis discus hannai with distinct algal vegetation of kelp and crustose coralline algae: implication of ontogenetic niche shifts. Fisheries Science 79(1): 87-97. link.springer.com/article/10.1007/s12562-012-0578-1


Limited information; expert opinion based on observational information or circumstantial evidence