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Adaptive zones of the class asteroidea echinodermata



Adaptive zones of the class asteroidea echinodermata



Bulletin of Marine Science 46(3): 701-718



The concept of adaptive zones provides an informative framework for summation of ideas or asteroid life habits, functional morphology and phylogeny. Modern asteroid orders occupy more or less distinct adaptive zones, with key characters allowing specialization in resource (food and space) acquisition, and protection. The fundamental separation of zonal strategies is based on relative importance of defense, stressing protection, and offense, stressing use of resources; within their basic strategy, offensive zones are further structured by prey type and habitat. Asteroid form, which varies largely in terms of proportion (e.g., principal radii, body height) and armor development, reflects adaptive zone, and evolved primarily in response to demands of protection, body flexibility, support on soft substrata, and internal capacity. Most Paleozoic species belong to an extinct stem group; nevertheless, adaptive zones similar to those seen today apparently were present. Basic strategies thus recurred through the Phanerozoic despite changes in geography and associated biotas, reflecting generalistic adaptations in broadly similar physical settings.

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