Back to 
Animals
Back to
Ectoprocta
Back to Alphabetized
Species List

Back to Completed Reports List

 

Species Name:    Electra bellula
Common Name:                (None)

 

I.  TAXONOMY

Kingdom Phylum/Division: Class: Order: Family: Genus:
Animalia Ectoprocta Gymnolaemata Cheilostomata Electridae Electra


SEM of Electra bellula showing the characteristic pattern of branching spines projecting over the proximal ends of the opesia.  Photo by J. Winston, courtesy of the American Museum of Natural History.  Used with permission.
Species Name:
Electra bellula (Hincks), 1881

Voucher Specimen
American Museum of Natural History
# 585.

Common Name:
None

 

 


Species Description:
E. bellula forms encrusting colonies that are lightly calcified and transparent in appearance. Zooids measure approximately 0.18 X 0.34 mm in size. There are usually 2 distal spines, but possibly more, which project from the proximal gymnocyst region. A branched spine often projects over the proximal end of the opesia. The lophophore measures an average of 0.225 mm in diameter and bears 10 tentacles.

Synonymy:
None

Other Taxonomic Groupings:
Suborder: Anasca


II.  HABITAT AND DISTRIBUTION 
Regional Occurrence:
E. bellula occurs in the western Atlantic from Florida to Brazil, including the Gulf of Mexico and the Caribbean.

IRL Distribution:
E. bellula occurs year round from the Ft. Pierce and St. Lucie inlet areas. It is typically collected on seagrasses, primarily Syringodium species.


III.  LIFE HISTORY AND POPULATION BIOLOGY
Age, Size, Lifespan:
Zooids measure approximately 0.18 X 0.34 mm in size. The lophophore measures an average of 0.225 mm in diameter, and bears 10 tentacles.

Abundance:
E. bellula occurs year round in the IRL. It is also collected from coastal stations (Walton Rocks) April - July.

Locomotion:
Sessile

Reproduction:
Reproductive season is unknown in this species.


IV.  PHYSICAL TOLERANCES
Temperature:
As a species that occurs year round, E. bellula can be considered a eurythermal species, as it must withstand seasonal fluctuations in water temperature.

Salinity:
E. bellula is typically collected from Indian River Lagoon sites where salinity measures below 30.


V.  COMMUNITY ECOLOGY
Trophic Mode:
E. bellula, 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 ectoprocts in the Indian River Lagoon include seagrasses, drift algae, oyster reef, dock, pilings, breakwaters, and man-made debris (Winston 1995). E. bellula is generally found in association with Syringodium spp., however, it has also been collected coastally from April to July attached to brown algae (Winston 1982).

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.


VI.  SPECIAL STATUS
Special Status:
None.

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:
None

 

Report by:  K. Hill, Smithsonian Marine Station
Submit additional information, photos or comments to:
irl_webmaster@si.edu
Page last updated: July 25,  2001