Environmental control versus phylogenic fingerprint in ontogeny: The example of the development of the stalk in the genus Guillecrinus (stalked crinoids, Echinodermata)

TitreEnvironmental control versus phylogenic fingerprint in ontogeny: The example of the development of the stalk in the genus Guillecrinus (stalked crinoids, Echinodermata)
Type de publicationJournal Article
Year of Publication2005
AuteursAmeziane, N, Roux, M
JournalJournal of Natural History

The stalk morphology of the deep-sea stalked crinoid Guillecrinus changes a lot from juvenile to adult. As a result of its unusual morphology among the extant crinoids, its taxonomic and phylogenetic affinities remain unsettled. Distinctive morphological changes characterize the various growth stages in stalked crinoids. We conduct and discuss a detailed ontogenetic analysis of the stalk of the two species (Guillecrinus neocaledonicus and G. reunionensis) of this Indo-Pacific genus, which was observed in its environment during submersible dives off New Caledonia. Analyses examined (1) morphological changes, (2) the degree of change in morphology, (3) architectural constraints, and (4) the functional constraints related to environmental factors. The relations between three levels of integration were examined: the ossicle (columnal), the stalk, and the complete individual. The changes in level of organization were estimated. The analysis reveals that the external stalk morphology of Guillecrinus goes from a pronounced xenomorphic type in juveniles, characterized by diversified columnal articulations, which provide the proximal and distal part of the stalk with a considerable degree of flexibility, to a dominant homeomorphic type in adults, characterized by columnal articulations which allow little or no movement. This ontogenetic change through a mosaic of heterochronic developments corresponds with a change in the hydrodynamic environment, from a turbulent to a laminar water flow, and from nutritional contraints. The extensive development of deep ligament fossae in adults and in the distal stalk of juveniles corresponds to a relatively low allocation of energy to the skeleton, rather than a functional necessity. Proximal columnals in juvenile Guillecrinus display characteristics of adult Hyocrinidae. Distal columnals exhibit the typical morphology observed in Bourgueticrinina. Juveniles stages of both proximal and distal columnals show a high degree of specialization (derived characters). Well-supported classifications have typically placed the Bourgueticrinina and the Hyocrinidae in two very dissimilar groups. Specific characteristics from the three very different families Bathycrinidae, Guillecrinidae and Hyocrinidae appear to be expressed either separately (Hyocrinus or Bathycrinus) or together (Guillecrinus). Their expression appears to depend on functional and environmental constraints. The transformation of columnals from juvenile to adult shows the important role of hypermorphic processes. However, no evidence of phylogenetic recapitulation was observed. Does the evidence presented here support or disprove current taxonomic interrelationships? How does morphology relate to ontogeny? Is heterochrony involved?