Pisaster brevispinus (giant spiny sea star)

The giant spiny sea star (Pisaster brevispinus)

is one of the largest sea stars in the world and an important predator in the subtidal zone and occasionally low-intertidal zones; it is distributed from Alaska to La Jolla, California. This large sea star has long central tube feet with a reach longer than that of other large sea stars (e.g. Pycnopodia helianthoides), with which it can excavate large bivalves.

A disease devastated populations of sea stars in California during 2013-2014, including those of the giant spiny sea star. Assessing the genomic diversity of populations along the California coast will allow us to (1) identify genomic diversity that was lost during the mass mortality, and (2) better understand the population recovery process of an ecologically important subtidal sea star.