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Tunicates

They are commonly called sea squirt


They are a group of marine animals
They can be solitary or colonial
Solitary tunicates some kinds of tunicates
that live alone
Colonial tunicates they have the ability to
bud off additional individuals from the first
to arrive, and these grow into colonies (tinier
than the solitary)
Tunic

firm, but flexible body covering where


tunicate" comes from
gelatinous or leathery protective test made
from cellulose (found in adults)
METAMORPHOSIS
- Tunicates tadpole mature extremely quick, in
matter of just a few hours (6 to 36 hours)
- Involves the loss of the notochord, nerve cord,
and tail, and a twisting of the body so that the
mouth and the anus both point away from the
attachment.
- the tunicate even digests its own brain
Larval tunicate (tadpole)
Fully formed tadpole-like larvae hatch
within 25* hours
They swim freely
Notochord
persists only in the tail of the larva
- provides
resistance
against
muscular contractions and allows
for more efficient movement
- can be compared to the spine of
true vertebrates
Tail - 4/5of the length of the animal. The
animal is only 1-2 cm* in length to begin
with
Nerve cord
- forms the central nervous system
- front end of the nerve cord is
expanded to form a cerebral
vesicle
Slits in the beginning of the digestive tract
(the pharynx) that allow filter feeding and
gas exchange
Digestive system
- They have no mouth therefore they
do not eat
both ends of its digestive tract are
covered by a skinlike tissue called
the tunic.

Their sole job is to find a suitable place to


live out their lives as adults

When ready to settle, a sticky secretion


(slime) helps them attach head first to the
spot they have chosen. They then reabsorb
all the structures within their tail and recycle
them to build new structures needed for their
adult way of life.
It uses three hair-like structures on the head
to anchor itself to the soil. (?)
Adult tunicate
Sessile
o unable to move around
o anchored to the ocean floor by
small root-like processes called
villi
Filter feeder filter food particles from the
water by pumping water in one siphon and
out the other
Gill slits used in adult life for the purpose
of filter feeding
no notochord, nerve cord, or tail
Cerebral Vesicle equivalent to a
vertebrate's brain.
Sensory organs
o Eyespot - primitive eye than can
sense changes in light intensity and
direction
o
Otolith - which helps the animal
orient to the pull of gravity;
sensitive to linear acceleration and
the pull of gravity these functions
are performed by a specialized
inner ear in higher chordates

Other characteristics of an adult tunicate


Body
The body is covered by protective test (tunic)
Sea squirts can be found in variety of colours and
shapes due to the fact that their bodies are made of
one solid structure (rather than having a skeleton),
which is protected by a membrane just a few cells
thick. Sea squirts are normally cylindrical in shape,
but can also be round or even bell-shaped.
Subdivision
o upper region (pharyngeal)
- pharynx
o lower region (abdominal)
- Digestive, reproductive organs &
rudimentary heart
Two openings (siphon)
o Incurrent (mouth)
o Excurrent
Reproduction
Hermaphrodites (produce both eggs and sperm
making self-fertilization)

Ovary
and
testes
open
to
the outside via gonoducts (the male gonoduct or vas
deferens and the female gonoduct or oviduct) that
open via gonopores in the atrium. The region of the
atrium containing the gonopores and the anus is
called the cloaca They eject egg and sperm through
the excurrent siphon
External fertilization (releasing eggs and sperm into
the water)
In colonial species, the egg is often retained in a
region of the atrium called the brood chamber, which
may contain special brood pockets to hold the eggs as
they develop after internal fertilisation. In these
forms,
the
hatchling larva is typically released via the atrial
siphon, though development may continue to a
juvenile
or
young
adult, in the brood chamber.
Digestive
Filter feeders (feed by filtering the nutritious
particles out of the water. Sea squirts filter the sea
water through slits in their membranes, taking food
and water in and letting waste and excess water out)
Plankton feeders
They also get nutrients in the water along with the
algae that grows on them. Many larger sea squirt
species have stick tentacle-like appendages which
catch food particles as they float past. Some really
large species of sea squirts that are found in the deep
ocean, are even known to trap and ingest
small animal including fish and jellyfish.
Circulatory System
Tunicates do not have blood vessels and the blood
merely sloshes around in large sinuses and spaces
within the body tissue. They have a high enough ratio
of surface area to body volume to rely on the
diffusion of carbon dioxide and oxygen through the
skin for respiration.
Muscular
Tunicates can lengthen, shorten, bend, close and open
these two apertures with the aid of circular muscles.
Excretory
No special excretory organs appear to be present.
Nitrogenous waste is excreted as ammonia, which
can easily be carried away in the exhalent flow of
water and by diffusion from the general body surface.
The blood and tissues have the same osmolarity as
the surrounding sea water, so there is no need for
special
osmoregulation.
The
concentrations
of specific ions in the blood do differ from those in
sea water, however.

Predators

Water

Snails, crustaceans and eels along with some


species of larger fish

They live by drawing seawater through their bodies.


Water enters the oral siphon, passes through a sievelike structure,the branchial basket that traps food
particles and oxygen, and is expelled through
the atrial siphon
The tunic has two openings, allowing water to flow
through the gill slits in the pharynx. The water flow is
maintained by ciliated cells, and food is trapped
by mucuson the pharyngeal gill slits.

They propose an evolutionary mechanism called


paedomorphosis, in which the larval form evolved the ability
to reproduce before metamorphosis. No longer requiring a
suitable ocean floor to reproduce, these protovertebrates
would have been free to exploit and adapt to new niches,
eventually giving rise to the vertebrate skeleton.

Pyrosoma spinosum
It is a colonial salp
Largest species of tunicates
with a length of 65.6 feet (20 meters)
A 2.1 meter colony was accidentally caught by British
researchers on sampling gear.
Minipera pedunculata
Smallest tunicate
lengths of only 0.02 inches (0.5 mm)
sea squirt species being found in the warmer, nutrient-rich
tropical waters.
Sea Squirt Facts
Kingdom:

Animalia

Phylum:

Chordata

Class:

Urochordata

Common Name:

Sea Squirt

Scientific Name:

Urochordata

Found:

Worldwide

Size:

3-30cm (1.2-11.8in)

Weight:

100-200g (3.5-7oz)

Number of Species:

3,000

Average Lifespan:

7-30 years

Average Litter Size:

1,000

Conservation Status:

Threatened

Main Prey:

Plankton, Algae, Nutrients In


Water

Colour:

Green, Red, Blue, Yellow,


Orange, Brown, Pink, White

Predators:

Eels, Snails, Starfish

Special Features:

Long tube-like appearance

Skin Type:

Permeable

Favourite Food:

Plankton

Habitat:

Coastal Waters

http://depts.washington.edu/fhlk12/links/StudentProj
ects/Tun.biology.html