Live fast, die young: the life cycle of the brooding feather star Aporometra wilsoni (Echinodermata: Crinoidea)
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We present here the first documentation of the entire life cycle of a crinoid. A population of the diminutive feather star Aporometra wilsoni, which broods larvae, was sampled near Adelaide, in the Gulf St Vincent, South Australia, every fortnight between February 2004 and February 2005. Body size, sex, and reproductive status were recorded for 30-50 individuals collected on each occasion. The population showed a sex ratio of 1:1, with unequivocal male and female specimens found in 10 of 13 months. The average size (arm length) of individuals increased until June, when it stabilized and females began to brood larvae. Females were found brooding larvae until November, when adults began senescing. By January, the majority of the population consisted of small recruits. The entire life cycle of this small ovoviviparous crinoid occurs over a single year, a life cycle that is unique among echinoderms.