BIOTIC Species Information for Echinocardium cordatum
Researched byLizzie Tyler Data supplied byUniversity of Sheffield
Refereed byThis information is not refereed.
Scientific nameEchinocardium cordatum Common nameSea-potato
MCS CodeZB223 Recent SynonymsNone

PhylumEchinodermata SubphylumEchinozoa
Superclass ClassEchinoidea
Subclass OrderSpatangoida
Suborder FamilyLoveniidae
GenusEchinocardium Speciescordatum

Additional InformationThe common name of this species refers to the brittle, brownish test, which is often found washed up on sheltered sandy shores.
Taxonomy References Fish & Fish, 1996, Hayward et al., 1996, Mortensen, 1927,
General Biology
Growth formGlobose
Feeding methodSurface deposit feeder
Sub-surface deposit feeder
Environmental positionInfaunal
Typical food typesDetritus HabitBurrow dwelling
Bioturbator FlexibilityNone (< 10 degrees)
FragilityFragile SizeSmall-medium(3-10cm)
HeightInsufficient information Growth Rate1-2 cm/year
Adult dispersal potential1km-10km DependencyIndependent
General Biology Additional Information
  • Growth rate: Growth in Echinocardium cordatum is particularly rapid during the first and second years of life. There are also seasonal variations that are characterised by an alternation of slow and rapid growth rates, with rapid growth during spring and summer months (Ridder de et al., 1991).
  • The bivalve Tellimya (=Montacuta) ferruginosa is a commensal of Echinocardium cordatum, and as many as 14 or more of this bivalve have been recorded with a single echinoderm. Adult specimens live freely in the burrow of Echinocardium cordatum, while the young are attached to the spines of the echinoderm by byssus threads (Fish & Fish, 1996). The amphipod crustacean Urothöe marina (Bate) is another common commensal (Hayward & Ryland, 1995).
Biology References Fish & Fish, 1996, Hayward et al., 1996, Hayward & Ryland, 1995b, Ridder de et al., 1991, Nichols, 1969, Hayward & Ryland, 1990, Julie Bremner, unpub data,
Distribution and Habitat
Distribution in Britain & IrelandEchinocardium cordatum is a common infaunal species found on sheltered sandy beaches, on all coasts of Britain and Ireland.
Global distributionAlmost cosmopolitan except for polar seas: Norway to South Africa, Mediterranean, Australasia and Japan.
Biogeographic rangeNot researched Depth range0 - 230 m
MigratorySeasonal (reproduction)   
Distribution Additional InformationThe species has an annual tendency to form aggregations during the breeding season (Buchanan, 1966). There is also a migration of individuals from the subtidal to the intertidal at about 2 years of age.

Substratum preferencesCoarse clean sand
Fine clean sand
Muddy sand
Sandy mud
Physiographic preferencesOpen coast
Offshore seabed
Strait / sound
Enclosed coast / Embayment
Biological zoneLower Eulittoral
Sublittoral Fringe
Upper Infralittoral
Lower Infralittoral
Upper Circalittoral
Lower Circalittoral
Circalittoral Offshore
Wave exposureSheltered
Very Sheltered
Extremely Sheltered
Tidal stream strength/Water flowInsufficient information
SalinityReduced (18-30 psu)
Full (30-40 psu)
Habitat Preferences Additional Information
Distribution References Fish & Fish, 1996, Hayward & Ryland, 1995b, Buchanan, 1966, Higgins, 1974, Hayward & Ryland, 1990, Julie Bremner, unpub data,
Reproduction/Life History
Reproductive typeGonochoristic
Developmental mechanismPlanktotrophic
Reproductive SeasonSpring and summer Reproductive LocationWater column
Reproductive frequencyAnnual episodic Regeneration potential No
Life span11-20 years Age at reproductive maturity
Generation timeInsufficient information Fecundity1000000
Egg/propagule size Fertilization typeExternal
Larval/Juvenile dispersal potentialInsufficient information Larval settlement periodInsufficient information
Duration of larval stage   
Reproduction Preferences Additional Information
  • Life span: Observation of populations of Echinocardium cordatum over a period of 7 years suggests the species has a life span greater than 10 years (Buchanan, 1966; Hayward et al., 1996). However, in the Mediterranean Guillou (1985) suggests the life span is one or two years.
  • Age at maturity: On the north-east coast of England a littoral population bred for the first time when three years old. In the warmer waters of the west of Scotland breeding has been recorded at the end of the second year (Fish & Fish, 1996). However, it has been observed that subtidal populations appear never to reach sexual maturity (Buchanan, 1967).
  • Recruitment: Often sporadic, with reports of Echinocardium cordatum recruiting in only 3 years over a 10 year period (Buchanan, 1966) although this relates to subtidal populations. Intertidal individuals reproduce more frequently.
  • The sexes are separate and fertilization external, with the development of a pelagic larva (Fish & Fish, 1996). The fact that Echinocardium cordatum is to be found associated with several different bottom communities would indicate that the larvae are not highly selective and discriminatory and it is probable that the degree of discrimination in 'larval choice' becomes diminished with the age of the larvae (Buchanan, 1966). Metamorphosis of larvae takes place within 39 days after fertilization (Kashenko, 1994).
Reproduction References Fish & Fish, 1996, Hayward et al., 1996, Buchanan, 1966, Buchanan, 1967, Guillou, 1985, Kashenko, 1994, Julie Bremner, unpub data, Rees & Dare, 1993,
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