A Study of Some Factors Affecting the Zonation and Ascidian Community Structure at the Ala Wai Yacht Harbor in Waikiki

Kerlee, Dennison
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University of Hawaii at Manoa
Tunicates, which comprise the subphylum Urochordata, are an important group in the marine biosphere. The two thousand known species of tunicates are classed according to the position of the gill apparatus. The three classes are Larvacea, Thaliacea, and Ascidiacea, the latter being the most commonly distributed. Ascidians, which are also called sea squirts, are sessile tunicates. They are of interest to the biologist for a number of reasons. Foremost is the possession of a notochord in the larvae. A high concentration of vanadium in the blood and secretion of a cellulose tunic are other unique features. Sessile ascidians are commonly attached to any intertidal substrate, although they may inhabit greater depths (Dybern, 1965). They may give rise to other individuals by asexual budding, and hence are termed social or colonial. All forms undergo sexual reproduction. The larval stage resulting from sexual reproduction occurs in the plankton. Ultimately, the larvae must settle, attach, and metamorphose to the adult.
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