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Species Name:    Vittaticella contei
Common Name:                   (None)

 

I.  TAXONOMY

Kingdom Phylum/Division: Class: Order: Family: Genus:
Animalia Ectoprocta Gymnolaemata Cheilostomata Vittaticellidae Vittaticella

   
     
SEM of Vittaticella contei showing translucence of colonies.  Photo by J. Winston, courtesy of the American Museum of Natural History.  Used with permission.  


Species Name:

Vittaticella contei (Audouin), 1826

Voucher Specimen: 
American Museum of Natural History, # 630

Common Name:
None

 

 

 


Species Description:
V. contei forms delicate translucent white colonies with short branches. Zooids are short, widening distally and tapering proximally. Zooids measure an average of 0.33 X 0.14 mm in size, but fertile zooids tend to be shorter. Avicularia are not present in this species. Rather, there is a long pointed process on either side of the semicircular orifice. The lophophore measures approximately 0.25 mm in diameter, and bears 12 tentacles.

Synonymy:
None

Other Taxonomic Groupings:
Suborder: Ascophora

Potentially Misidentified Species:
V. contei is often confused with other bryozoan species, especially Celloporina costazii.


II.  HABITAT AND DISTRIBUTION 
Regional Occurrence:
V. contei is a potentially cosmopolitan species; however, it has often been confused with other bryozoan species, especially Celloporina costazii. Its documented range in the western Atlantic extends from Cape Hatteras south to Florida.

IRL Distribution:
V. contei is found year-round at coastal stations surrounding the Indian River Lagoon. It has been recorded from several locations within the Indian River Lagoon, notably from around the Fort Pierce Inlet; but it is likely to be somewhat more widespread than reported due to its cryptic nature and small stature.


III.  LIFE HISTORY AND POPULATION BIOLOGY
Age, Size, Lifespan:
Zooids measure an average of 0.33 X 0.14 mm in size. The lophophore measures approximately 0.25 mm in diameter, and bears 12 tentacles.

Abundance:
V. contei is common around the area of Ft. Pierce Inlet and Seminole Shores, Florida. It is found year-round along the coast.

Locomotion:
Sessile

Reproduction:
The reproductive season of this species has not been well documented.

Embryology:
Ovicells are large and found embedded in the distal zooid. They are generally outlined by a beaded border, with a longitudinal groove down the front. The orifice of the ovicell is transversely elongate and separate from the orifice of the fertile zooid. Embryos are pink to pink-red in color.


IV.  PHYSICAL TOLERANCES
Temperature:
As V. contei is found year-round along the Florida coast and is thus eurythermal.

Salinity:
V. contei is typically collected at sites where salinity averages over 30 .


V.  COMMUNITY ECOLOGY
Trophic Mode:
V. contei, like all bryozoans, is a suspension feeder. Each individual zooid in a colony has 12 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). V. contei is highly cryptic in its habitat preferences and occurs principally in the roots of hydroids such as Thyroscyphus and Endendrium. It also is found growing on sponges, rocks, breakwaters, and attached to Sargassum.

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