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Species Name:    Savignyella lafontiii
Common Name:                      (None)

 

I.  TAXONOMY

Kingdom Phylum/Division: Class: Order: Family: Genus:
Animalia Ectoprocta Gymnolaemata Cheilostomata Savignyellidae Savignyella


SEM of Savignyella lafontii showing the trumpet-shaped zooids and the stout spines encircling the orifice.  Photo by J. Winston, courtesy of the American Museum of Natural History.  Used with permission. 
Species Name:
Savignyella lafontiii (Audouin), 1826

Voucher Specimen: 
American Museum of Natural History
# 606

Common Name:
None

 

 


Species Description:
Living colonies are distinguished by their uniserial, jointed branches, and their brick red to brownish color that results from coloration in the polypides, or from the presence of embryos within zooids. Individual zooids are somewhat trumpet shaped, with an inflated distal portion having pores that penetrate the frontal surface, and tube-like proximal portion. Zooids measure approximately 0.75 - 1.5 mm in length. The orifice is semicircular in shape and is surrounded by a raised peristome with 4 spines. Suborally, there is a large, pointed avicularium with a triangular mandible. The lophophore bears 17 - 19 tentacles (Marcus 1937, Winston 1982).

Synonymy:
Savignyella lafontiii: Osburn 1914

Other Taxonomic Groupings:
Suborder: Ascophora


II.  HABITAT AND DISTRIBUTION 
Regional Occurrence:
S. lafontii is highly cosmopolitan in warm waters. In the western Atlantic, its range extends from Bermuda to the east coast of Florida, and south through the Gulf of Mexico, the Caribbean, and Brazil.

IRL Distribution:
S. lafontii is found at coastal stations all along the Indian River Lagoon. Within the IRL, it has been collected at the Sebastian Inlet grass flats, and is likely to be found at other IRL locations.


III.  LIFE HISTORY AND POPULATION BIOLOGY
Age, Size, Lifespan:
Individual polypides of S. lafontii reach 0.75 - 1.5 mm in length. The lophophore bears 17 - 19 tentacles.

Abundance:
The delicate branches of S. lafontii colonies are often not obvious until the substratum is examined microscopically. S. lafontii occurs year-round in Florida, but is most common from September - December. Winston (1982) reported this species to be especially abundant near Ft. Pierce Inlet.

Locomotion:
Sessile

Reproduction:
Ovicells are globular in shape and perforated by small pores. In Florida, reproduction may occur year-round.


IV.  PHYSICAL TOLERANCES
Temperature:
S. lafontii occurs year-round in Florida, and is thus considered eurythermal.

Salinity:
S. lafontii was most common at coastal locations. Within the IRL, it was generally collected in areas where salinity remained above 30 .


V.  COMMUNITY ECOLOGY
Trophic Mode:
S. lafontii, like all bryozoans, is a suspension feeder. Each individual zooid in a colony has 17 - 19 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). S. lafontii occurred on the roots of hydroids, most commonly on those of Thyroscyphus. It was also found intermingling with Vittaticella among hydroid roots. Winston (1982) reported S. lafontii to also occur on algae, sponges and on other bryozoans such as Zoobotryon.

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
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Page last updated: July 25,  2001