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Drawing of a colony of Nolella stipata showing tubular-shaped zooids growing along the inconspicuous stolon.  Drawing by J. Winston, courtesy of the American Museum of Natural History. Used with permission.


Photo of N. stipata showing some individuals with extended lophophores. Photo courtesy of J. Winston.

Species Name: Nolella stipata Marcus, 1937
Common Name: None
Synonymy: None
  1. TAXONOMY

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

    Other Taxonomic Groupings

    Suborder: Carnosa
    Superfamily: Paludicelloidea

    Species Description

    N. stipata forms colonies of widely spaced zooids connected by a slender stolon. Individuals are tall and tubular in shape, measuring approximately 2.1 X 0.17 mm. The chitinous exoskeleton often becomes covered with a layer of silt or mud, thus zooids resemble mud tubes constructed by amphipods or polychaete worms. The lophophore averages 0.62 mm in diameter and bears 17 tentacles.

    Potentially Misidentified Species

    Nolella stipata may easily be identified as a tube-dwelling polychaete worm, or the mud tube of an amphipod. However, upon close examination, the stolon is revealed and the lophophore can be observed.

  2. HABITAT AND DISTRIBUTION

    Regional Occurrence

    N. stipata is distributed throughout the western Atlantic from Canada south to the Caribbean and Brazil.

    IRL Distribution

    Winston (1982) has collected N. stipata year-round from 3 stations in the IRL: the seagrass beds around Link Port; the breakwater at Ft. Pierce; and at Walton Rocks. Further sampling effort could potentially increase the known range of this species in the IRL.

  3. LIFE HISTORY AND POPULATION BIOLOGY

    Age, Size, Lifespan

    Individual zooids of N. stipata are tall and cylindrical in shape, measuring approximately 2.1 X 0.17 mm. The lophophore measures an average of 0.616 mm in diameter (Winston 1982).

    Locomotion

    Sessile

    Embryology:

    N. stipata produces several yellow eggs per zooid. Embryos are brooded within the zooid and develop into short-lived, non-feeding larvae.

  4. PHYSICAL TOLERANCES

    Temperature

    Because it is present year-round, N. stipata is considered to be eurythermal.

    Salinity

    N. stipata is typically collected from waters where salinity remains above 30‰.

  5. COMMUNITY ECOLOGY

    Trophic Mode

    Nolella stipata, like all bryozoans, is a suspension feeder. Each individual zooid in a colony has ciliated tentacles that are extended to filter phytoplankton less than 0.05mm 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). Nolella stipata has been collected on seagrasses, shells, algae, and on other bryozoans such as Zoobotryon species (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. Winston (1995) reported that colonies of Zoobotryon verticillatum 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

    No information is available at this time

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

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