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Vrushali Khadse
Nov 30, 2023

Water vascular system in echinodermata?

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Nov 30, 2023
The water vascular system is a unique characteristic of echinoderms, a phylum that includes animals such as sea stars, sea urchins, and sea cucumbers. This system plays a crucial role in various physiological functions, including locomotion, respiration, and feeding.

The water vascular system consists of a network of fluid-filled canals and structures called tube feet. It is primarily powered by a hydraulic system, which is driven by the contraction and relaxation of muscles surrounding the fluid-filled canals.

The system begins with a sieve plate, known as the madreporite, located on the aboral surface of the echinoderm's body. The madreporite acts as an entrance for seawater into the system. From there, the water enters a circular canal that surrounds the mouth and extends into five radial canals, one for each arm of the echinoderm.

The radial canals give rise to numerous lateral canals, which eventually lead to the tube feet. These tube feet are small, muscular, and extend externally through pores in the echinoderm's body wall. They can be extended or retracted by the contraction or relaxation of muscles in the tube feet.

The water vascular system allows echinoderms to perform various functions. For locomotion, the tube feet extend and attach to a substrate, then contract, pulling the echinoderm forward. This coordinated movement of tube feet enables echinoderms to crawl, climb, and even swim.

In terms of respiration, the water vascular system facilitates gas exchange. Oxygen from the seawater diffuses into the fluid-filled canals and is transported to the tissues of the echinoderm. Carbon dioxide, a waste product, is also removed through this system.

The water vascular system also plays a role in feeding. Some echinoderms, such as sea stars, use their tube feet to pry open shells of prey, while others, like sea urchins, use their tube feet to manipulate food particles towards their mouth.

Overall, the water vascular system is a vital adaptation that allows echinoderms to survive and thrive in their marine environments.

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