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SEM of Cryptosula pallasiana, an encrusting bryozoan, detailing the pattern of large pores and heavy calcification within the colony. Photo by J. Winston, courtesy of the American Museum of Natural History. Used with permission.

Species Name: Cryptosula pallasiana Moll, 1803
Common Name: None
Synonymy: None

    Kingdom Phylum/Division Class: Order: Family: Genus:
    Animalia Ectoprocta Gymnolaemata Cheilostomata Cryptosulidae Cryptosula

    Other Taxonomic Groupings

    Voucher Specimen: American Museum of Natural History # 611.
    Suborder: Ascophora

    Species Description

    Living colonies are pink, beige or white in color. C. pallasiana is an encrusting type whose colonies sometimes rise into frills. Zooids are hexagonal in shape and measure approximately 0.6 X 0.4 mm in size. The frontal surface is heavily calcified and has large pores set into it. Colonies may sometimes appear to have a beaded surface due to zooids having a suboral umbo. The orifice is bell-shaped and large, with a deep, rounded anterior portion, and a shallow arc posteriorly. The peristome is narrow and frames the orifice. Occasionally, small, sub-oral avicularia are detected, though none were observed in Winston's (1982) specimens of this species.


    Regional Occurrence

    C. pallasiana is cosmopolitan, with worldwide distribution, but its range is sometimes disjunct. Marcus (1942) suggested its distribution could be related to its proximity to shipping lanes.

    IRL Distribution

    C. pallasiana is a common fouling organism that is most common from Spring through Fall in the IRL (Winston 1995).


    Age, Size, Lifespan

    Individual zooids measure approximately 0.6 X 0.4 mm in size.


    C. pallasianais a cosmopolitan and common fouling species in the IRL.




    No ovicells are present in this species. Rather, embryos are brooded in ovisacs within individual zooids. The presence of embryos is detected due to their orange color, and was only recorded in April.



    C. pallasiana occurs most commonly between April and December, with colonies active at all times during this period.


    C. pallasiana is tolerant of reduced salinities.


    Trophic Mode

    A. sica, like all bryozoans, is a suspension feeder. Each individual zooid in a colony has ciliated tentacles that are extended to filter phytoplankton less than 0.045 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.


    Typical habitat for ectoprocts in the Indian River Lagoon include seagrasses, drift algae, oyster reef, dock, pilings, breakwaters, and man-made debris (Winston 1995). C. pallasiana occurred on nearly any hard substratum including rock, glass, and beach rocks.

    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.


    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.


    Marcus E. 1942. Sobre Bryozoa do Brasil II. Zool Univ Sao Paulo, Brazil. 6: 57-106.

    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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