What makes an echinoderm an echinoderm?
Echinodermata is a phylum of marine invertebrates that are characterized by their unique body plan, which includes a system of water-filled canals and tube feet that they use for movement and feeding. Echinoderms also have a skeleton made of hard, calcified plates, which provide support and protection. They play important roles in marine ecosystems as predators, scavengers, and as primary consumers. Echinoderms have a complex life cycle that typically involves both asexual and sexual reproduction, and some species are capable of regenerating lost limbs or other body parts. Echinoderms have a long evolutionary history and have been present in the oceans for over 500 million years. They are of great interest to scientists because of their unique anatomy and biology, and for their potential as bioindicators of changes in marine ecosystems. Examples of echinoderms include sea stars, sea urchins, sand dollars, sea cucumbers, and crinoids (feather stars).
Total discovered species: 7000-10000+ species
Distribution: Marine only; shallow coral reefs to deep sea
Commonly Associated Terms
Evolutionary History & Adaptation
Conservation and Threats
Chapter Advisors and Contributors
Lead Researcher at Bugtopia
MSc Insect Pest Management
MSc Aquatic Entomology
Entomologist at BugTech