Size and shape in the phylum Phoronida



The lophophorate phylum Phoronida consists of about 13 species, which differ in body length and width, number of longitudinal muscles, lophophore geometry and number of lophophore tentacles. In absolute terms large species have a larger body width, more tentacles, more longitudinal muscles and greater coiling of the lophophore than small species. However, size and shape analyses suggest that with increasing size: (I) the body surface area to volume ratio increases because body length increases faster than body width; (2) the relative number longitudinal muscles decreases, and (3) the relative feeding surface area of the lophophore decreases because tentacle diameter is constant while tentacle number increases at the same rate as body length and tentacle length increases more slowly than tentacle number. Coiling and spiraling of the lophophore in large species may be an attempt to compensate for this last relationship. We suggest that the habits, mode of growth and feeding mechanism of phoronids constrain size-related changes in shape.