Feeding ecology and diet

Phoronids are suspension feeders, capturing algae, diatoms, flagellates, peridinians, small invertebrate larvae, and detritus from the water by means of the lophophore. Phoronids orient their lophophores into the prevailing water current, and when currents change direction, phoronids can rapidly reorient to maintain the food-catching surface of the lophophore into the water flow. The cilia on the tentacles create a feeding current, which transports the food particles along the frontal surface of the animal down to the mouth at the bottom of the lophophoral cavity.

Direct uptake of amino acids through the epidermis displays seasonal variation, the maximum occurring in summer.

Several types of parasite may be present in phoronids: pro-genetic trematode metacercariae and cysts with spores in the coelomic cavities; unidentified gregarines in the digestive tract; and an ancistrocomid ciliate parasite, Heterocineta, in the tentacles.

The life span of phoronids is approximately one year.

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