Smalltail lancelet

Branchiostoma belcheri

ORDER

Amphioxiformes FAMILY

Branchiostomatidae TAXONOMY

Branchiostoma belcheri Gray, 1847, Borneo. Possibly three subspecies: B. belcheri belcheri, B. belcheri japonicus, B. belcheri tsing-tauense.

OTHER COMMON NAMES

(Listed names were originally coined for the European species Branchiostoma lanceolatum. Because of the morphological uniformity of cephalochordates they are usually used for all species.) English: Amphioxus, lancelet; French: Amphioxus, lancelet; German: Amphioxus, Lanzettfischchen; Spanish: Anfioxo, pez lanceta, lanceta.

PHYSICAL CHARACTERISTICS

Sixty-five (61-69) myotomes: 38 (34-43) preatriopore, 17 (14-21) atriopore to anus, 10 (8-12) postanal. Two hundred ninety (222-360) dorsal fin chambers. Reaches up to 2.8 in (70 mm) in total length.

DISTRIBUTION

A widespread species found from southern Japan, along the Chinese coast, the Philippines, the northern Australian coast, to Madagascar, and southeastern Africa.

HABITAT

Sandy bottoms from 3.28-82.02 ft (1-25 m) in depth.

BEHAVIOR Seems to avoid mud.

FEEDING ECOLOGY AND DIET

Consumes microscopic plankton, mainly diatoms.

REPRODUCTIVE BIOLOGY

Reproductive season in Amoy (China) lasts from May to July. Second reproductive period seems to occur in December.

CONSERVATION STATUS

Not threatened. For cultural reasons, Branchiostoma belcheri is protected in the "Xiamen Rare Marine Creatures Conservation Area."

SIGNIFICANCE TO HUMANS

In some villages at the southern coast of China the majority of fishermen were fishing for Branchiostoma belcheri. Although the importance of this specialized and traditional fishery has declined, it is still viable in the area around Xiamen. The animals

Branchiostoma Belcheri

H Branchiostoma belcheri H Branchiostoma floridae H Branchiostoma lanceolatum are intended for human consumption. Some animals also are fished for academic purposes and support active research programs around the world. ♦

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