Overview

Brief Summary

Taxonomy

  • Colony forming brownish-white sheets, irregular incrustations or spherical balls of zooids.
  • Colony shape is largely influenced by the substrate on which it settles. Zooids can range in size from 0.38-0.7mm long and 0.17-0.4 mm wide.
  • Each zooid usually has a pair of short spines distally and sometimes 3-5 pairs of slender spines laterally.
  • 15-16 tentacles are present and this species does not have avicularia or ovicells.
  • It has a planktonic larva and a single ancestrula.
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Introduction

Conopeum seurati is an estuarine, fouling bryozoan (ectoproct, moss animal) found in brackish water.
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Comprehensive Description

General Description

Conopeum seurati is an encrusting bryozoan. The colony form varies from brownish-white lace-like sheets, irregular encrustations to spherical balls of zooids. The colony shape is largely influenced by the substrate type, which includes estuarine plants, such as Ruppia, as well as hard substrates.

The full distribution of this species is unknown, but it has mainly been recorded from Northern Europe and the Mediterranean. It has also been found in Florida and New Zealand, where it is regarded as an introduced species. Conopeum seurati is an estuarine, fouling bryozoan that is found in the lower intertidal and shallow waters of brackish environments.

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C. seurati is an encrusting bryozoan that forms small whitish colonies on seagrasses and other substrata. Zooids are oval in shape and measure approximately 0.55 X 0.33 mm. Each has a single pair of long, distal spines. Lateral spines, if present, are highly variable in number. The lophophore measures approximately 0.621 mm in diameter and bears an average of 15 tentacles.The proximal budding pattern of this species, which shows a distal-proximal pattern, sets it apart from most other members of its genus. In C. seurati, the ancestrula (the original settled larva) buds proximally. This proximal zooid then gives rise to 1 distal, and 2 distolateral zooids. The distolateral zooids then bud proximally, distally and laterally until a circle is formed around the ancestrula.
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Distribution

Op rietstengels en andere substraten. Verdraagt zeer lage saliniteit en tolereert heel grote fluctuaties in de concentratie. Er zijn tal van vindplaatsen in het Deltagebied (Faasse & De Blauwe, 2004). Daarbuiten gemeld van Texel in 1966 (Jebram, 1968), Oostvoornse Meer (de Kluijver, 1997), de jachthaven en het binnenspuikanaal in IJmuiden (Faasse & De Blauwe, 2004). In België veel minder algemeen en vermoedelijk sterk achteruit gegaan door vervuiling en biotoopverlies. In augustus 2005 is een kolonie aangetroffen op hout in de achterhaven van Zeebrugge.
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Conopeum seurati is beperkt tot water met laag zoutgehalte.
  • 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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Distribution and ecology

Distribution
The full distribution of this species is unknown but it has mainly been recorded from Northern Europe and the Mediterranean.It has also been found in Florida and New Zealand, where it is regarded as an introduced species.

Habitat
Conopeum seurati is known from a range of estuarine habitats (such as lagoons) and can withstand very low salinities, fluctuating concentrations, and extreme ranges in temperatures.This bryozoan is a successful marine-fouling species and has been found in Florida (Winston, 1982) and New Zealand (Gordon & Mawatari, 1992).
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The full distribution of this species is unknown but it has mainly been recorded from Northern Europe and the Mediterranean. It has also been found in Florida and New Zealand, where it is regarded as an introduced species. Conopeum seurati is an estuarine, fouling bryozoan that is found in brackish water.

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C. seurati typically occurs in Northern Europe and the Mediterranean. Prior to Winston's 1982 study, this species had not been reported in the western hemisphere. Its range now includes estuarine habitats on Florida's east coast. C. seurati is likely to be widespread in the India River Lagoon, but it has been primarily collected from Link Port (Winston 1982).
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Physical Description

Morphology

Colonies form brownish-white sheets, irregular incrustations or spherical balls of zooids. The shape of the colony is largely influenced by the substrate on which it settles. On flat substrates, regular lace-like colonies are typical, whereas on uneven surfaces, such as plant stems, irregular encrustations, often rising into bilaminar lobes, will tend to form.

Zooids are elongated rectangles and can range in size from 0.5 - 0.7mm long and 0.28-0.4 mm wide, again according to the substrate. Each zooid usually has a pair of short spines at the distal end (furthest from the colony origin) and sometimes 3-5 pairs of slender spines laterally. 15-16 tentacles are present on the polypide and this species does not have avicularia or ovicells.
The frontal surface of each zooid is largely membranous.  The calcified section (the gymnocyst) is reduced compared to the related C. reticulum, and appears as small triangular laminae at the proximal corners (closest to the colony origin) of each zooid. A narrow granular ridge with raised lateral walls (the cryposcyst) is present, but lacking the arched distal region of C. reticulum.


In areas of the colony where the regular arrangement of zooids is disrupted, specialised elongated triangular zooids (kenozooids) may be present. The kenozooids are never present in a constant paired relationship at the distal end of the zooids, as in C. reticulum.
The operculum, a hinged flap which closes the orifice, is very characteristic in Conopeum species. It has a folded membranous edge and appears as a thick crescent-shaped structure when closed. It is lightly chitnizied and lacks the thin marginal sclerite typical of Membranipora species. In C. seurati the operculum appears as a broad semicircle, with a denser and more granular surface than that of C. reticulum.


The founding zooid (the ancestrula) is singular, distinguishing the colony from species of Membranipora. It measures 0.2-0.22 by 0.14-0.15. A pair of spines is present at the distal end, and the ancestrula polypide has six to eight tentacles.

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Size

The size of zooids varies greatly, but is frequently between 0.5- 0.7mm long and 0.28-0.4 mm wide

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Individual zooids measure an average of 0.55 X 0.33 mm in size. Lophophore diameter measures 0.621 on average.
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Diagnostic Description

Description

Korstvormige kolonie, de vorm wordt bepaald door de aard van het substraat; op platte oppervlakken vormt ze leerachtige bladen, op onregelmatige richt ze zich vaak op in tweelagige lobben, zoals op plantenstengels. Zoïden typisch langwerpig rechthoekig, vorm en grootte varieren volgens het substraat. Verkalking dunner dan bij C. reticulum. Frontale verkalking veel meer gereduceerd, aanwezig als kleine driehoekige plaatjes in de hoeken van de zoïde en een nauwe, korrelige rand binnen de opgerichte laterale wanden; geen overwelvende strook zoals bij C. reticulum. Stekels heel variabel, meestal een enkel klein paar aan het distale einde van de zoïde, vaak afwezig, zelden lang en gebogen. Op verstoorde plaatsen kunnen kenozoïden voorkomen; ze zijn meestal langwerpig, driehoekig, onregelmatig geplaatst en nooit in paren aan het distaal einde van de zoïde. Polypide met 12 tot 14 tentakels. Lijkt vaak erg op Electra crustulenta. Het operculum is behalve de bruine rand doorschijnend, terwijl bij E. crustulenta het operculum helemaal ondoorschijnend is.
  • 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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Look Alikes

Species of Conopeum are easily confused with those of the related genus Membranipora. Membranipora species may be distinguished by the presence of a twinned ancestrula (the founding zooid), compared to the single ancestrula of Conopeum species. However, the ancestrula region is frequently missing from colonies, making this character insufficient to distinguish species.


Conopeum and Membranipora species also differ in their ecology. M. membranacea is the only species of its genus to occur in British waters, where it forms extensive colonies, normally on Laminaria. Membranipora tuberculata, which colonises Sargassum, and Membranipora tenuis, a tropical species, are, on rare occasions, washed up on south-western shores of the UK. Both of the British species of Conopeum colonise hard substrata or estuarine plants, but would not be expected to occur on marine algae.


C. seurati has thinner calcification and a less apparent gymnocyst and cryptocyst than Conopeum reticulum. Specialised triangular zooids (kenozooids) are less frequent in C. seurati than C. reticulum, and never occur in a constant paired relationship at the distal end of the zooids, as they do in C. reticulum.

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C. seurati could be mistaken for C. tenuissimum. However, the budding pattern in C. tenuissimum is slightly more regular than in C. seurati due to C. tenuissimum's somewhat larger zooid size and distal-proximal budding pattern. Additionally, lateral walls in individual zooids are more calcified in C. seurati, and its distal spines are longer and more pointed. C. seurati has fewer lateral spines than C. tenuissimum in water of the same
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Ecology

Habitat

Conopeum seurati is known from a range of estuarine habitats, such as lagoons (Bamber et al., 1992), and can withstand very low salinities, fluctuating concentrations, and extreme ranges in temperatures. Hard substrates and estuarine plants such as the stems of Ruppia are common substrates for Conopeum seruati.

This bryozoan is a successful marine-fouling species and has been found in Florida (Winston, 1982) and New Zealand (Gordon & Mawatari, 1992).

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Trophic Strategy

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

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C. seurati, like all bryozoans, is a suspension feeder. Each individual zooid in a colony has an average of 15 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.Competitors: Winston (1982) reported that C. seurati may be a better space competitor than C. tenuissimum, because its colonies were often observed to overgrow C. tenuissimum.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).
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Associations

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

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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.
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Population Biology

C. seurati is among the most abundant bryozoan species in the IRL. It is most common from December through May (Winston 1982). In the IRL, it is considered a fouling organism (Winston 1995).Locomotion: Sessile
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Life History and Behavior

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 a single ancestrula.

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Reproduction

Conopeum seurati breeds from June to October in Britain.Cook (1962) and Cook & Hayward (1966) have studied development of the egg and early budding of the colony in detail.
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Conopeum seurati breeds from June to October in Britain. The larvae of C. seurati are planktonic cyphonautes larvae which feed and grow up to 0.125 mm in height and 0.165 mm across the base. Larvae are sub-triangular in shape and, when viewed in profile, appear “turned-up” at the posterior margin.

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No ovicells are present in this species and eggs are not brooded. Reproduction is accomplished by releasing eggs into the water column for fertilization. Peak reproductive season occurs from late winter to early spring.C. seurati and C. tenuissimum co-occur in estuarine habitats, but their reproductive seasons are apparently offset. During December, when C. tenuissimum larvae are settling in their greatest numbers, they can outnumber C. seurati by a ratio of 99:1. However, throughout January, settlement rates between both species tend to equalize, and by May, only C. seurati is still settling.
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Growth

Colonies grow through asexual budding of new zooids at the periphery.

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After fertilization, embryos develop into planktonic larvae.
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Relevance to Humans and Ecosystems

Benefits

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.
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