Monday, March 13, 2006


In order for an organism to be included in the phylum of echinodermata, they have to be able to consist of the following four synapomorphies (Wray, unknown). Together, these synapomorphies define much of what makes the functional biology of echinoderms distinctive from that of other metazoans (Wray, unknown). Firstly, they must have a calcitic skeleton composed of many ossicles. Echinoderm skeletons are composed of calcium carbonate and several proteins (Wray, unknown). Ossicles are not solid, but have a sponge-like microstructure called stereom that is unique to the phylum (Wray, unknown). Secondly, they must have a water vascular system (Wray, unknown). The water vascular system performs many important functions in echinoderms, including locomotion, respiration, and feeding; in addition, most sensory neurons are located at the termini of podia (tubefeet) which are part of this organ system (Wray, unknown).Thirdly, the body must contain mutable collagenous tissue which provides some interesting mechanical advantages, including the ability to maintain a variety of postures with no muscular effort (Wray, unknown). Lastly, there should be pentaradial body organization in adults (Wray, unknown). The scientific classification of the phylum echinodermata goes as follows.

Kingdom: Animalia
Subkingdom: Metazoa
Superphylum: Deuterostomia
Phylum: Echinodermata
Blastoidea (extinct)
Source: www.Wikipedia.com

Echinoderms are an ancient group of animals extending back to the Cambrian period (Hickman et al, 2004). Despite an excellent fossil record, the origin and early evolution of echinoderms are still obscure (Hickman et al, 2004). It seems clear that they descend from bilateral ancestors because their larvae are bilateral but become radially symmetrical later in their development (Hickman et al, 2004).

Sea urchins graze kelp and may reach population densities large enough to destroy kelp forests at the rate of 30 feet per month (Anon , 2005). Urchins move in "herds," and enough urchins may remain in the "barrens" of a former kelp forest to negate any attempt at regrowth (Anon , 2005). Sea otters, playing a critical role in containing the urchin populations, prey on urchins and thus control the numbers of kelp grazers (Anon , 2005).


Anonymous , (2005) downloaded from http://www.sanctuaries.nos.noaa.gov , 13/03/06
Hickman. P, Roberts. L, Larson. A, I'Anson. H. (2004) Integrated principles of zoology, twelfth edition, McGraw-Hill Companies, pg 443

Wray, G.A (date unknown).downloaded from http://tolweb.org , 11/03/06

www.Wikipedia.com , 11/03/06

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  • Provide a full reference (Wray is from the Tree of Life so this should be easy). Best to define what synapomorphies are. The uniqueness of the Water Vascular System should be highlighted. One interesting aspect is the ability of Echinoderms to repair themselves from severe amputations.


    Origins (Cambrian Explosion)

    Diversity up to end of Permian with its massive extinction

    Modern Echionderms

    Explore the ecological (especially feeding) niches of the modern Echionderms

    Conservation of Enchinoderms

    Enchinoderms as invasives and the impact on Ecosystems / Tropic Structure.

    Finally et al. is in italics - and there are two spaces following a full stop.

    By Anonymous Rich, at Saturday, March 18, 2006 12:07:00 am  

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