Echinoderm is the regular name given to any individual from the phylum Echinodermata of marine animals.The grown-ups are conspicuous by their (generally five-point) spiral symmetry, and incorporate such understood creatures as sea stars, sea urchins, sand dollars, and sea cucumbers, as well as the sea lilies or “stone lilies”.Echinoderms are found at every ocean depth, from the intertidal zone to the abyssal zone.
Echinoderms are important for the ecosystem. They are also a source of food and medicine for humans.
Echinoderms play numerous ecological roles. Sand dollars and sea cucumbers burrow into the sand, providing more oxygen at greater depths of the sea floor. This allows more organisms to live there. In addition, starfish prevent the growth of algae on coral reefs. This allows the coral to filter-feed more easily. And many sea cucumbers provide a habitat for parasites such as crabs, worms, and snails.
Echinoderms are also an important step in the ocean food chain. Echinoderms are the staple diet of many animals, including the sea otter.
Echinoderms as Medicine
Echinoderms are also used as medicine and in scientific research. For example, some sea cucumber toxins slow down the growth rate of tumor cells, so there is an interest in using these in cancer research.
Echinoderms in Farming
The hard skeleton of echinoderms is used as a source of lime by farmers in some areas where limestone is unavailable. Lime is added to the soil to allow plants to take up more nutrients.
Echinoderms are an important part of the ocean food chain, keeping seaweed in check as grazers and serving as food sources for animals like otters.
Echinoderms are used as food, medicine, and a source of lime for farmers.
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