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Larvaceans: Appendicularia

No Common Name (oikopleura Labradoriensis): Species Account

Physical characteristics: Oikopleura labradoriensis larvaceans are about 0.2 inches (6 millimeters) long. The trunk makes up about one-third of the animal's length and the tail about two-thirds of the length. The house is approximately 0.4 inch (9 millimeters) across.

Geographic range: Oikopleura labradoriensis (abbreviated to O. labradoriensis) larvaceans live all over the world. Because they are found throughout the world, no distribution map is provided.

Habitat: O. labradoriensis larvaceans live in cool to cold waters near the surface. They live in the open sea as well as closer to shore.

Diet: O. labradoriensis larvaceans eat only the smallest of plant particles, those less than 0.0004 inches (1 micrometer) in diameter.

Behavior and reproduction: O. labradoriensis larvaceans have glowing grains in the walls of their houses that may help confuse predators, which eat empty houses rather than animals that have abandoned the houses. O. labradoriensis larvaceans make both eggs and sperm. They release sperm first then release eggs by rupturing their body wall, a process that results in the death of the animal. Fertilization and development take place in the open water.

Oikopleura labradoriensis and people: O. labradoriensis larvaceans have no known importance to people.

Conservation status: O. labradoriensis larvaceans are not considered threatened or endangered. ∎

Oikopleura labradoriensis live in cool to cold waters near the surface. (Illustration by Emily Damstra. Reproduced by permission.)



Byatt, Andrew, Alastair Fothergill, and Martha Holmes. The Blue Planet. New York: DK, 2001.

Niesen, Thomas M. The Marine Biology Coloring Book. 2nd ed. New York: HarperResource, 2000.


Dybas, Cheryl Lyn. "Voyagers of Inner Space." Sea Frontiers (spring 1996): 18–21.

Morell, Virginia. "Way Down Deep." National Geographic (June 2004): 36–55.

Web sites:

"Pelagic Tunicates." JelliesZone. http://jellieszone.com/tunicates.htm (accessed on March 3, 2005).

Van Egmond, Wim. "Oikopleura's Fishing House." Microscopy UK. http://www.microscopy-uk.net/mag/indexmag.html?http://www.microscopy-uk.net/mag/artjan01/oiko.html (accessed on March 24, 2005).

Additional topics

Animal Life ResourceJellyfish, Sponges, and Other Simple AnimalsLarvaceans: Appendicularia - Physical Characteristics, Behavior And Reproduction, No Common Name (oikopleura Labradoriensis): Species Account - GEOGRAPHIC RANGE, HABITAT, DIET, LARVACEANS AND PEOPLE, CONSERVATION STATUS