Tiffany's Brittlestar home page
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Welcome to

Brittlestar Home Page

My name is Tiffany and I am a graduate student working on my favorite animals,

Brittlestars are a group of marine organisms in the phylum Echinodermata. They generally have a central disc and 5 arms which they will autotomize (break off) quite easily when disturbed. Regeneration of arms is rapid. There are about 2000 current species worldwide.
I am studying a brittlestar Ophiophragmus filograneus which lives in bays and estuaries of Florida but is not found in the Gulf of Mexico. Because it has been found in salinities as low as 7.7 ppt, it is thought to have the lowest salinity tolerance af any echinoderm in the world. Normal seawater salinity is about 30-35 ppt. but for some reason (or maybe a combination of reasons), O. filograneus does not live in full strength seawater like other brittlestars. The selective pressures that push them to live in lower salinities could be to escape predation, finding the right habitat substratum to burrow in, or competition with other species; no-one is sure yet. But the fact that they have created a niche in an area where few or no other echinoderms have been able to do is quite impressive.
I am testing howO. filograneus functions physiologically at low salinities by testing their respiration rates, excretion rates, and arm regeneration rates at three different salinities. Should be fun!!

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