Overview

Comprehensive Description

General Description

Electra monostachys is an encrusting bryozoan species, most frequently occurring on stones or shells in estuarine environments. Colonies form irregular patches, or branched or star-shaped sheets, with several series of zooids growing rapidly in opposing directions.  The species is abundant in the lower reaches of rivers in conditions of high and fluctuating salinity, but can also occur in lagoonal, coastal or offshore environments.

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Source: Bryozoa of the British Isles

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Distribution

Meestal op stenen of de binnenzijde van schelpen, vaak samen met Aspidelectra melolontha. Komt voor in zee en in riviermondingen. Levend verzameld op schelpen op de Kwintebank en op de Hinderbanken. Uit Nederland zijn er meldingen van Texel (Mulder, 1983), van schelpenbanken bij Terschelling en Vlieland (Dankers & Van Moorsel, 2001), ten zuidwesten van Terschelling en ten westen van Schouwen (Jebram, 1968) en van bij het Goesse Sas en van de Westerschelde (Faasse & De Blauwe, 2004). In maart 2008 op een dakpan in de getijdenpoel in Kattendijke. Spoelt zelden aan op plastic.
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middle North Shore (from Sept- Iles to Cape Whittle, including the Mingan Islands); Prince Edward Island (from the northern tip of Miscou Island, N.B. to Cape Breton Island south of Cheticamp, including the Northumberland Strait and Georges Bay to the Canso Strait causeway)
  • North-West Atlantic Ocean species (NWARMS)
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The distribution of Electra monstachys is imprecisely known, but it has been recorded from estuaries and coasts of the English Channel and the North and Irish Seas. It is common on lagoonal, estuarine and coastal habitats on the Adriatic shores of Italy.

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Physical Description

Morphology

Electra monostachys forms irregular encrusting colonies in dendritic or star-shaped patterns, with several series of zooids grow rapidly in opposing directions.  Lobes of the same colony frequently meet and rejoin.


Zooids are flat and elongated, narrowing towards the proximal end (closest to the colony origin).The size of zooids is typically 0.44-0.5 by 0.24-0.28 mm. The non-calcified section of the zooid’s frontal surface (the frontal membrane) and the underlying space (opesia) are oval to elliptical, and may be bordered by spines. A single thin, curved and pointed spine is always present in the middle of the proximal section (closest to the colony origin) of the zooid, although it is not as developed as in E. pilosa. A thin pair of spines stands erect at the distal end of the zooid (furthest from the colony origin). Up to 4 or 5 pairs of short, curved spines may also be present around the frontal membrane, but these are frequently absent.


The calcified section of the frontal surface (the gymnocyst) is smooth and lacks pores or other features. It occupies one quarter to one third of the total frontal surface. A reduced horizontal calcareous lamina (the cryptocyst) is present beneath the frontal membrane, but it is barely visible as a rim around the proximal half of the opesia.


Irregularly shaped zooids, which lack feeding apparatus (kenozooids), may occur in the space where neighbouring colonies, or branches of the same colony, come into contact.


The operculum, a hinged flap which closes the orifice, is a simple non-calcified structure, with a thin line marginal thickening (sclerite).
The founding zooid (the ancestrula) measures 0.24 by 0.18 and bears a pair of distal spines and 2-3 proximal spines. The polypide of the ancestrula has seven to nine tentacles.

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Size

The size of zooids is between 0.44-0.5 by 0.24-0.28 mm

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Diagnostic Description

Description

Kolonie vormt een stervormige korst. Zoïden vlak, langwerpig, proximaal smaller. Frontale verkalking 1/4 tot 1/3 van het oppervlak, glad, zonder poriën. Ovale tot elliptische opesia. Operculum met een dunne marginale verharding. Het aantal stekels varieert aanzienlijk; meest constant is de mediale proximale stekel, die dun is, puntig en gebogen over het frontale membraan. Een paar even tengere maar rechte stekels staan aan het distaal einde van de opesia. 4 tot 6 paar korte, gebogen stekels kunnen staan rond het frontale membraan, maar ze zijn vaak afwezig. Onregelmatige kenozoïden kunnen voorkomen waar buurkolonies of takken van dezelfde kolonies in contact komen. Aan de binnenzijde van schelpen vormen de zoïden vaak een ovaal litteken. Jonge kolonies van Conopeum reticulum lijken op Electra monostachys doordat de eerste zoïden in een enkele rij in tegenovergestelde richting van de ancestrula weggroeien en proximaal frontale verkalking hebben. Een goed onderscheid is het feit dat bij Electra monostachys de zoïden een litteken maken in het substraat, wat niet gebeurt bij Conopeum reticulum.
  • De Blauwe, H. (2009). Mosdiertjes van de Zuidelijke Bocht van de Noordzee. Determinatiewerk voor België en Nederland. Uitgave Vlaams Instituut voor de Zee, Oostende: 464pp.
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Ecology

Habitat

infralittoral of the Gulf and estuary
  • North-West Atlantic Ocean species (NWARMS)
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Electra monostachys most frequently colonises hard substrates, typically stones or shells and is commonly found on the inner surface of oyster shells. The species occurs in offshore, coastal or lagoonal habitats, but prefers estuarine conditions. It reaches its greatest abundance in the lower reaches of rivers, in conditions of high and fluctuating salinity.

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Depth range based on 16 specimens in 1 taxon.
Water temperature and chemistry ranges based on 7 samples.

Environmental ranges
  Depth range (m): 4 - 30
  Temperature range (°C): 10.558 - 11.513
  Nitrate (umol/L): 3.925 - 6.408
  Salinity (PPS): 34.671 - 34.793
  Oxygen (ml/l): 6.215 - 6.313
  Phosphate (umol/l): 0.382 - 0.441
  Silicate (umol/l): 2.314 - 2.954

Graphical representation

Depth range (m): 4 - 30

Temperature range (°C): 10.558 - 11.513

Nitrate (umol/L): 3.925 - 6.408

Salinity (PPS): 34.671 - 34.793

Oxygen (ml/l): 6.215 - 6.313

Phosphate (umol/l): 0.382 - 0.441

Silicate (umol/l): 2.314 - 2.954
 
Note: this information has not been validated. Check this *note*. Your feedback is most welcome.

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Trophic Strategy

Like all bryozoans, Electra monostachys is a suspension feeder. It feeds on small phytoplankton using ciliated tentacles of the lophophore.

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Associations

Electra monostachys may colonise the inner surface of Ostrea valves, in association with Conopeum seurati, Conoepeum reticulum or Aspidelectra melolontha.

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Life History and Behavior

Behavior

Diet

small microorganisms, including diatoms and other unicellualr algae
  • North-West Atlantic Ocean species (NWARMS)
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Life Cycle

The founding zooid (ancestrula) develops into a young colony, and later into an adult colony through asexual budding. Sexually produced embryos develop into larvae which are released into the plankton. Larvae settle after liberation and metamorphose into an ancestrula.

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Reproduction

In Britain, the breeding season extends from June until November. The larvae of Electra monostachys are planktonic cyphonautes larvae which feed and grow up to 0.165 mm in height and 0.260 mm across the base. Larvae are triangular in shape at first, with a rounded basal margin, but lengthen as growth proceeds.

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Growth

Colonies grow through asexual budding of new zooids at the periphery. New zooids bud from the founding zooid (the ancestrula), primarily in lateral directions.

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