Strongylocentrotus droebachiensis has a broad arctic-boreal distribution and is commonly associated with laminarian kelps. As an omnivorous grazer, its feeding capabilities and preferences have profound effects on the structure and dynamics of benthic communities. It exhibits an annual reproductive cycle and planktotrophic larval development. Growth and reproductive rates are largely dependent on the quantity and quality of available food. Larval behavior can influence patterns of dispersal in the plankton and settlement on the seabed, but the importance of predation or other agents of mortality at early life-history stages is poorly understood. Fish and decapod crustaceans are major predators of larger juveniles and adults may play an important role in population regulation. S. droebachiensis is susceptible to acute and chronic infections by microbial pathogens and parasitic nematodes. In the NW Atlantic, mass mortality during outbreaks of an amoebic disease can have profound impacts on sea urchin populations and ecosystem state. The species has been extensively fished or cultured for roe since the late 1980s.