Ophiuroidea (Echinodermata): Systematics and Japanese Fauna

  • Masanori Okanishi
Part of the Diversity and Commonality in Animals book series (DCA)


This chapter consists of two sections, providing an overview of systematics and the Japanese fauna of Ophiuroidea (brittle stars and basket stars), the most diverse class of living Echinodermata. The first section presents their body plan and the history of systematic research, with a special emphasis on the order Euryalida as an example of well-studied subtaxa. The second section describes the biodiversity of ophiuroids in Japanese waters based on a comprehensive bibliographic survey of existing literature. Currently, 342 species in 120 genera and 18 families are known from Japan, which constitutes three quarters of the number of species recorded from the North Pacific area. Of the five biogeographic zones, the temperate zone contains the highest number of species (218), with similar numbers occurring in the subtropical zone (203), including elements of the highly diverse Indo-West Pacific fauna. The number of species from middle-temperate zone (111) are also relatively high, but in other northern zones, including the cool-temperate zone (16) and subarctic zone (27), the diversity is low.


Echinodermata Ophiuroidea Euryalida Systematics Japanese fauna Molecular phylogeny Morphological taxonomy 



I wish to express my sincere gratitude to Dr. Gordon Hendler, Dr. Christopher Mah, Dr. David Pawson, and Dr. Sabine Stöhr for critically reading the manuscript and constructive comments. Part of the work for this chapter was supported by grants from the Research Institute of Marine Invertebrates (Tokyo, Japan), the Showa Seitoku Memorial Foundation, the Japanese Society for the Promotion of Science (Scientific Research [B] No. 20310144, [C] No. 22570104 and Research Fellowships for Young Scientists No. 22506). This work was also a contribution of the project “Study on Deep-Sea Fauna and Conservation of Deep-Sea and Adjacent Coastal Areas: Origin of Influential Factors” and “Studies on the Origin of Biodiversity in the Sagami Sea: Fossa Magna Element and the Izu–Ogasawara Arc” conducted by the National Museum of Nature and Science, Tokyo.


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© Springer Japan 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Faculty of Science, Biological Sciences CourseIbaraki UniversityMitoJapan

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