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Juvenile-adult relationship in the gregarious ophiuroid Ophiothrix fragilis (Echinodermata): a behavioral and morphological study
Morgan, R.; Jangoux, M. (2004). Juvenile-adult relationship in the gregarious ophiuroid Ophiothrix fragilis (Echinodermata): a behavioral and morphological study. Mar. Biol. (Berl.) 145(2): 265-276.
In: Marine Biology. Springer: Heidelberg; Berlin. ISSN 0025-3162; e-ISSN 1432-1793, meer
Peer reviewed article  

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  • Morgan, R.
  • Jangoux, M.

    Ophiothrix fragilis forms dense beds in the North Sea-English Channel region, where juveniles are exclusively found on adults. The aim of this study was to see how the behavior and morphology of juveniles could help elucidate the close juvenile-adult relationship found in this species. Juveniles are found on the disk, arms and in the bursae of adult conspecifics, the ones on the disks being significantly larger. No clear advantage seems to be gained by the juveniles being in the bursae, and their presence there is most likely due to juvenile movement on adults and to and from adults. Hooked spines serve as anchory organs during the early life of the juvenile, but growth of the arms enhances its anchory capabilities and the hooked spines become secondary in that respect. They regress as ophiuroids become older, to the advantage of the other spines used in suspension feeding. Juveniles are attracted to conspecifics, and true gregarious behavior has been observed. The tip of each arm, the terminal tentacle, plays a major role in distance chemoattraction, with juveniles needing at least one intact terminal tentacle to be able to initiate a response. Electron microscope observations of the terminal tentacle permitted us to recognize two different potential receptor structures designated stabchens. The first possesses one long projecting cilia and is mostly present around the base of the terminal tentacle, while the other has one to five short projecting cilia and is mostly found on the tip. No receptors are found on the shaft. Receptors are not associated with secretory structures. Juveniles and adults are closely associated with one another, and both the morphology and behavior of juveniles play an important role in that relationship.

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