Filtration rate in seven Scandinavian ascidians: implications of the morphology of the gill sac

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The ascidian branchial basket is functionally responsible for pumping water through the animal. Within Ascidiacea the branchial basket and the stigmata are morphologically variable and these features are important taxonomical characters. However, the functional significance of this morphological variation has not been studied in great detail. Here, we have measured filtration rates in seven ascidians: Clavelina lepadiformis (Order Aplousobranchiata); Ciona intestinalis, Corella parallelogramma, Ascidia virginea (Order Phlebobranchiata); Boltenia echinata, Molgula manhattensis, Pyura tessellata (Order Stolidobranchiata) and compared these rates with the morphological characteristics of the branchial basket and the stigmata. Filtration rates were measured in the laboratory and determined from an exponential reduction in algal cell (Rhodomonas sp.) concentration as a function of time. The branchial baskets of the experimental ascidians were dissected free and photographs were taken of the entire basket and of the stigmata. It was found that filtration rates in the investigated ascidians are determined primarily by the area of the branchial basket and the length of the ciliary band lining the stigmatal openings, and that the form of the stigmatal opening has no impact on filtration rates.
Original languageEnglish
JournalMarine Biology
Issue number2
Pages (from-to)397-402
Publication statusPublished - 2002
Externally publishedYes


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