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Emig, C.C.; Roldán, C.; Viéitez, J.M. (2001). Phoronida, in: Costello, M.J. et al. (Ed.) European register of marine species: a check-list of the marine species in Europe and a bibliography of guides to their identification. Collection Patrimoines Naturels, 50: pp. 324-325
In: Costello, M.J.; Emblow, C.; White, R.J. (Ed.) (2001). European register of marine species: a check-list of the marine species in Europe and a bibliography of guides to their identification. Collection Patrimoines Naturels, 50. Muséum national d'Histoire naturelle: Paris. ISBN 2-85653-538-0. 463 pp., more
In: Collection Patrimoines Naturels. Muséum national d'Histoire naturelle: Paris. ISSN 1158-422X

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    Phoronida [WoRMS]

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  • Emig, C.C., more
  • Roldán, C.
  • Viéitez, J.M.

    The Phoronida is an exclusively marine group of animals. They are infaunal suspension-feeders, with a vermiform body enclosed in a slender, chitinous tube in which they moves freely and are anchored by the ampulla, the end-bulb of the body. The tube is embedded in hard or soft substrata.

    Several authors regard Phoronida as constituting a separate phylum; but others, including myself (Emig, 1977, 1997), consider them as a class within the phylum Lophophorata, which also includes the Bryozoa and Brachiopoda. Recently, Cohen (2000) included the Phoronida in a subphylum named Phoroniformea within the Brachiopoda. The Phoronida are particularly distinguished from the other two lophophorate groups on the basis of its cylindrical body form living in a tube which can be compared to the shell of the Brachiopoda and to the exo-skeleton in the Bryozoa.

    Currently only two genera, Phoronis, Wright, and Phoronopsis, Gilchrist, are recognised, together with respectively seven and three well-defined species (Emig, 1971, 1979, 1982). The name Phoronis, given by Wright (1856) from the genus name, is one of the numerous epithets of the Egyptian goddess Isis (Wright, 1856). The genus Phoronopsis has an epidermal invagination at the base of the lophophore.

    The characteristic larva of the Phoronida, named actinotroch or Actinotrocha, has been described near Helgoland (Germany) by Müller (1846). He considered it as an adult form, and named it Actinotrocha branchiata. The transformation of the actinotroch into an adult phoronid was described for the first time by Kowalevsky (1867) who, following the metamorphosis, realised that the Actinotrocha was a larval stage of Wright's Phoronis species.

    Separate names for larval and adult forms are still used in taxonomy. Despite the priority of the larval name Actinotrocha, the International Commission of Zoological Nomenclature accepted also as valid the name Phoronis. Consequently, the actinotroch keeps a separate "generic" name considered as a technical term under Actinotrocha (see Silén, 1952) which is sometimes still different from the adult species name.

    Phoronids are found in all oceans and seas and are not uncommon in favourable situations. In some habitats they are very abundant, reaching several tens of thousand individuals per square metre. Phoronids occur at depths ranging from the intertidal zone to about 400 m depth, but mainly between 0 to 70 m. Almost all species occuring in European waters have wide geographical ranges and most are probably cosmopolitan.

    From data of recent ecological surveys in Europe, mainly in the south of the Iberian Peninsula, the Chafarinas Islands and Canary Islands (Emig et al. 1999a, 199b, 2000), the number of phoronid species occuring in the European waters increased to 9 of 10 species known in the world. The species not recorded in Europe, Phoronis ijimai, is presently known from Pacific and N. W. Atlantic waters. The Iberian Peninsula and the surrounding islands represent a privileged area for the Phoronida because all 9 species has been recorded along their coasts.

    For more detailed information on Phoronida see the website at


    • Bailey-Brock J. H. & C. C. Emig, 2000. Hawaiian Phoronida (Lophophorata) and their distribution in the Pacific region. Pacific Science, 54 (2), 119-126.
    • Emig C. C. & A. N. Golikov, 1990. On Phoronids of the Far Eastern Seas of the USSR and their distribution in the Pacific Ocean (in Russian). Zool. Zh. 69, 22-30.
    • Emig C. C. & C. Roldán, 1992. The occurrence in Australia of three species of Phoronida (Lophophorata) and their distribution in the Pacific area. Rec. S. Aust. Mus. 26 (1), 1-8.
    • Emig C. C., 1982. The biology of Phoronida. Advances in marine Biology 19, 1-89.
    • Emig C. C., 1984. On the origin of the Lophophorates. Z. zool. System. Evolut.-forsch. 22 (2), 91-94.
    • Emig C. C., 1985. Phylogenetic systematics in Phoronida (Lophophorata). Z. zool. System. Evolut.-forsch. 23 (3), 184-193.
    • Emig C. C., 1997. Les Lophophorates constituent-ils un embranchement? Bull. Soc. zool. Fr. 122 (3), 279-288.
    • Emig C. C., García Carrascosa A. M., Roldán C. & J. M. Viétiez, 1999. The occurrence in the Chafarinas Islands (S.E. Alboran Sea, western Mediterranean) of four species of Phoronida (Lophophorata) and their distribution in the north-eastern Atlantic and Mediterranean areas. Cahiers de Biologie Marine 40, 129-133.
    • Emig C. C., Roldán C. & J. M. Viéitez, 2000. Foronídeos del litoral luso-español. Boletin de la Real Sociedad Española de Historia Natural (Sección Biología), in press.
    • Viéitez J. M., C. C. Emig, C. Rodríguez Babío & A. M. García Carrascosa, 1987. Foronídeos de las costas de la Península Ibérica e Islas Baleares: sistemática, ecología, distribución y estados larvarios. Bol. Inst. esp. Oceanogr. 4 (2), 63-78.

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