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Species Name:    Schizoporella floridana
Common Name:                          (None)



Kingdom Phylum/Division: Class: Order: Family: Genus:
Animalia Ectoprocta Gymnolaemata Cheilostomata Schizoporellidae Schizoporella

SEM of Schizoporella floridana, an encrusting bryozoan. Photo by J. Winston, courtesy of the American Museum of Natural History. Used with permission.  
Species Name:
Schizoporella floridana Osburn, 1914

Voucher Specimen
American Museum of Natural History 
# 617

Common Name:

Species Description:
S. floridana colonies are encrusting, and appear in a variety of forms from unilaminar or multilaminar, to foliacious or tubular. Zooids are rectangular in shape and measure an average of 0.49 X 0.36 mm. Specimens from the Indian River Lagoon are heavily calcified, somewhat granular in texture, and have a number of large pores perforating the calcification. A heavy umbo is present suborally. The orifice may sometimes lie at an angle to the midline of the zooid. Avicularia are rounded at the base, with pointed mandibles, and may occur singly or in pairs just inferior to the orifice. They orient upward on mammillate processes at an angle of approximately 30 degrees. Polypides are pink. The lophophore measures approximately 0.509 mm in diameter and bears an average of 17 tentacles.


Other Taxonomic Groupings:
Suborder: Ascophora

Regional Occurrence:
In the western Atlantic, S. floridana occurs from Beaufort, North Carolina south to Florida, the Gulf of Mexico and the Caribbean. Ryland (1965, in Winston 1982) reported that this species is possibly a variety of Schizoporella errata, a species common in Europe and the Mediterranean.

IRL Distribution:
S. floridana is likely to be found throughout the Indian River Lagoon in association with seagrass beds, specifically Thalassia beds.

Age, Size, Lifespan:
Rectangular zooids measure an average of 0.49 X 0.36 mm.

S. floridana is one of the most abundant fouling organisms in the Indian River Lagoon.


Colonies only a few millimeters in size are capable of producing embryos. Ovicells begin to be seen only a few generations out from the ancestrula.

Ovicells are hyperstomial and large, covered on the frontal surface with pores. The ovicell itself is somewhat wider than it is long. Embryos, when present are colored a pale orange. Recruitment occurs from January to August, with peak settlement occurring in April and May.

S. floridana is common throughout the warm waters of the western Atlantic and the Caribbean. It is likely to be somewhat cold sensitive, however, as it has only been observed from January through August.

S. floridana is typically collected from waters where the salinity is below 30‰.

Trophic Mode:
S. floridana, like all bryozoans, is a suspension feeder. Each individual zooid in a colony has 17 ciliated tentacles that are extended to filter phytoplankton less than 0.045 mm in size (about 1/1800 of an inch) from the water column. Bullivant (1967; 1968) showed that the average individual zooid in a colony can clear 8.8 ml of water per day.

Typical habitat for ectoprocts in the Indian River Lagoon include seagrasses, drift algae, oyster reef, dock, pilings, breakwaters, and man-made debris (Winston 1995). S. floridana was typically found encrusting the seagrass Thalassia in the Indian River Lagoon. However, colonies settling on Thalassia tend to remain small, and do not become multiserial. Winston (1982) reported that S. floridana did not occur at any of the coastal stations in her study. Further, she found no evidence of the massive, coral-like colonies S. floridana is reported to form along the Gulf coast of Florida, and at other locations.

Associated Species:
Seagrasses as well as floating macroalgae, provide support for bryozoan colonies. In turn, bryozoans provide habitat for many species of juvenile fishes and their invertebrate prey such as polychaete worms, amphipods and copepods. (Winston 1995).

Bryozoans are also found in association with other species that act as support structures: mangrove roots, oyster beds, mussels, etc.

Special Status:

Benefit in IRL:
Bryozoans are ecologically important in the Indian River Lagoon due to their feeding method. As suspension feeders, they act as living filters in the marine environment. For example, Winston (1995) reported that bryozoan colonies located in 1 square meter of seagrass bed could potentially filter and recirculate an average of 48,000 gallons of seawater per day.

Economic Importance:


Report by: K. Hill, Smithsonian Marine Station
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Page last updated: July 25, 2001