Ascidians are marine organisms that, for the most part, are found adhered to hard substrates from coastal to abyssal regions. Despite being chordates, their body plan is very modified to suit their life-style. In Brazil, ascidians are best studied in the State of São Paulo, both in terms of biodiversity and ecology. In that state, coastal waters of the municipality of São Sebastião are particularly well studied because the Marine Biology Research station of the University of São Paulo established there has attracted researchers since the 1960s. Knowledge of ascidians has been increasing continuously during the last 50 years, and today, 66 species are recorded from the state of São Paulo. Nonetheless, there are still important areas that need study, such as the extreme north and south in that state, where the ascidians have almost never been sampled, especially on the many coastal islands. Also, deeper regions of the continental shelf and slope are also poorly studied. Developing additional human resources is necessary for the continuity of biodiversity studies and today, no research group is studying ascidians in the State of São Paulo.
Ascidiacea; biodiversity of the State of São Paulo; BIOTA/FAPESP Program