Their Systematics, Biology, and Evolution
Edited by Edward B. Cutler
The Sipuncula, a group of ocean-dwelling worms related to annelids and mollusks, play a significant role in the bioerosion of coral reefs and are useful indicators of environmental conditions. The 155 species live in a wide variety ofmarine habitats at all depths, in sand and mud, in burrows in soft rock and dead coral, and inside such protective shelters as mollusk shells. Important food items for fish and invertebrate predators, they also recycle organic wastes and function as bioassay tools for human diseases such as cystic fibrosis and acute cholera. Edward B. Cutler brings together in this volume everything that is known about the entire phylum.
An introduction, with practical information about collecting and handling the animals, is followed by Part One, which incorporates new systematic analyses made during the past twenty years and offers illustrated keys to all taxa, replacing the work of A.C. Stephen and S.J. Edmonds. Part Two reviews the past thirty years' work in such areas as ecology, muscular sysetms, blood chemistry, respiration, reproduction, and excretion. Part Three provides a new synthetic perspective on the phylum's zoogeography and evolutionary relationships, both to other phyla and within the phylum. It utilizes information from the fossil record, paleo-oceanographic data, and comparative studies of immunology, physiology, embryology, and anatomy.
Edward B. Cutler is Professor of Biology at Utica College of Syracuse University, now on long-term leave at the Museum of Comparative Zoology, Harvard University.