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Growth pattern of Anguinella palmata. Drawing by J. Winston, courtesy of the American Museum of Natural History. Used with permission.


Live specimen of A. palmata. Photo courtesy of J. Winston.

Species Name: Anguinella palmata van Beneden, 1845
Common Name: None
Synonymy: Anquinella palmata van Beneden, 1845
  1. TAXONOMY

    Kingdom Phylum/Division Class: Order: Family: Genus:
    Animalia Ectoprocta Gymnolaemata Ctenostomata Nolellidae Anguinella

    Other Taxonomic Groupings

    Suborder: Carnosa
    Superfamily: Paludicelloidea

    Species Description

    A. palmata is an arborescent bryozoan whose colonies form limp, tufted tangles that are brown in color. Zooids occur only at the tips of branches and do not bud from the sides of mature individuals as occurs in other species. Individual zooids are cylindrical and measure approximately 0.79 X 0.13 mm (Winston 1982). The lophophore measures an average of 0.205 mm in diameter, and bears 10 tentacles. Colonies tend to become covered in a fine layer of silt that makes them opaque in appearance.

    Potentially Misidentified Species

    A. palmata may easily be mistaken for silt-covered marine algae. However, the presence of the lophophore helps differentiate bryozoans from algae.

  2. HABITAT AND DISTRIBUTION

    Regional Occurrence

    A. palmata is a highly cosmopolitan species, occurring in the western Atlantic from Massachusetts south to the Gulf of Mexico, the Caribbean and Brazil.

    IRL Distribution

    A. palmata is likely to occur throughout the Indian River Lagoon; however, it is considered to be most common around the Sebastian Inlet area (Winston 1982).

  3. LIFE HISTORY AND POPULATION BIOLOGY

    Age, Size, Lifespan

    Individuals measure 0.79 mm X 0.13 mm on average, with the lophophore measuring 0.205 mm in diameter (Winston 1982).

    Abundance

    A. palmata is locally abundant at Sebastian Inlet, where it can be collected between January and April. It has also been collected as late in the year as September from the Walton Rocks area (Winston 1982). In the IRL, it is considered a fouling organism (Winston 1995).

    Locomotion

    Sessile

    Embryology

    The embryology of A. palmata is unknown.

  4. PHYSICAL TOLERANCES

    Temperature

    Due to its cosmopolitan distribution, A. palmata is considered eurythermal.

    Salinity

    Winston's (1982, 1995) studies have shown that A. palmata is collected in areas where salinity is typically above 30 ‰

  5. COMMUNITY ECOLOGY

    Trophic Mode

    A. palmata, like all bryozoans, is a suspension feeder. Each individual zooid in a colony has 10 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.

    Habitats

    Typical habitat for A. palmata, especially around the Sebastian Inlet area is on the rocks of breakwaters (Winston 1982).

  6. ADDITIONAL INFORMATION

    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.

  7. REFERENCES

    Winston JE. 1982. Marine bryozoans (Ectoprocta) of the Indian River area (Florida). Bull Amer Mus Nat Hist 173: 99-176.

    Winston JE. 1995. Ectoproct diversity of the Indian River coastal lagoon. Bull Mar Sci 57: 84-93.

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

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