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Functional and Evolutionary Implications of Opposed Bands, Big Mouths, and Extensive Oral Ciliation in Larval Opheliids and Echiurids (Annelida)

Department of Zoology, University of Florida, 223 Bartram Hall, Gainesville, Florida 32611

Larvae of two annelids, the opheliid Armandia brevis and the echiurid Urechis caupo, captured small particles between opposed prototrochal and metatrochal ciliary bands and also captured large particles with wide ciliated mouths. The body volume of larval A. brevis increased more rapidly than the estimated maximum clearance rate as segments were added. Capture of larger particles by late-stage larvae may compensate for this potentially unfavorable allometry. The existence of larvae that use two feeding mechanisms at once, not previously known in annelids, suggests possible evolutionary routes between larval forms that feed only with opposed bands (e.g., serpulids and oweniids) and those that use complex oral ciliature to feed primarily on large particles (e.g., polynoids and nephtyids). In particular, the metatroch and food groove of opposed-band feeders may have arisen as expansions of oral ciliation in ancestral large-particle feeders; alternatively, extensive oral ciliation in large-particle feeders may have originated as a modification of metatroch and food-groove cilia in ancestral opposed-band feeders.