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Article
Published: 2012-12-12

Broad application of non-invasive imaging techniques to echinoids and other echinoderm taxa*

Museum of Comparative Zoology, Department of Organismic and Evolutionary Biology, Harvard University, Cambridge, MA, USA
Micro-CT μCT MRI Echinodermata Echinoidea imaging 3D visualization

Abstract

Tomographic imaging techniques such as micro-computed tomography (μCT) and magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) permit the gathering of digital anatomical data from whole animal specimens non-invasively. The resulting datasets can be used for direct observation of the two-dimensional tomographic image data as well as for manual and semi-automated three-dimensional modelling. Freshly fixed specimens as well as preserved museum material can be successfully ana­lyzed using this approach, giving the zoomorphologist a powerful tool for large-scale comparative studies. In order to demonstrate the principle suitability of non-invasive imaging in echinoderm research, μCT scans of 199 and MRI scans of 92 sea urchin (Echinodermata: Echinoidea) species were acquired, resulting in a total of 203 analyzed echinoid species. The taxa selected represent 50 of the currently recognized 60 extant sea urchin families. The present article lists all spe­cies that have been analyzed so far and provides information about the scanning parameters employed for each dataset. Furthermore, the workflow established to generate three-dimensional models of sea urchins is outlined. Using a number of examples from μCT as well as MRI scans performed on echinoids, the potential of the systematic approach described here is highlighted. Finally, the suitability of non-invasive imaging techniques for the study of other echinoderm taxa is assessed based on multimodal datasets of representative species.