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Ecological substrate in midwater: Doliolula equus, a new mesopelagic tunicate

  • Bruce H. Robison (a1), Kevin A. Raskoff (a2) and Rob E. Sherlock (a1)

Abstract

In the pelagic habitat, the bodies of resident animals provide much of the ecological substrate available for other organisms to attach, find shelter, and seek food. In Monterey Bay, California, the doliolid Doliolula equus provides substrate for multiple symbionts. These include a mutualist hydroid, commensal ciliates, and a parasitic amphipod. This new doliolid is described based on in situ observations from a remotely operated vehicle, and from the laboratory examinations of 43 colonies comprising hundreds of living, individual blastozooids. Doliolula equus differs from other members of the suborder Doliopsidina in the shape of its body, the length and configuration of its third muscle band, the size of its buccal siphon, and the position of the spiral gland. The new doliolid was found principally at depths between 300 and 400 m. This species is bioluminescent, hermaphroditic, and about one zooid in ten is peppered with orange pigment spots. A variety of other, obviously related, yet undescribed forms has been observed in the eastern Pacific.

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Ecological substrate in midwater: Doliolula equus, a new mesopelagic tunicate

  • Bruce H. Robison (a1), Kevin A. Raskoff (a2) and Rob E. Sherlock (a1)

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