Z. verticillatum, like all bryozoans, is a suspension feeder. Each individual zooid in a colony has 8 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. This figure, multiplied by an approximate count of the number of individual zooids in 1 square meter (m2) of seagrass beds yields an average of 184,728 liters (48,613 gallons) of water filtered per day.Competitors: It is highly unlikely that many organisms feed directly on Z. verticillatum as colonies produce bromo-alkaloids, a class of chemical compounds related to drugs like nicotine, morphine, and cocaine (Sato and Fenical 1983). These secondary metabolites are likely to protect zooids in the colony by discouraging predation, preventing settlement of other organisms, and preventing bacteria or viruses from invading. Only a few species of nudibranch mollusks are known to feed directly on Z. verticillatum.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). Z. verticillatum is typically found in fouling, seagrass and mangrove habitats within the IRL.
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