Integrative and Comparative Biology
Bryozoans are suspension feeding colonial animals that remain attached to the substratum or other surfaces. How well a bryozoan can feed in a particular flow regime could help determine the distribution and abundance of that bryozoan. I tested how velocity of flow affects feeding rate in four species of bryozoans in the laboratory and how these species perform in different flow regimes in the field. I found that one species, Membranipora membranacea, had a higher ingestion rate than did the other three species at all velocities of flow tested. Membranipora also had a higher rate of ingestion at intermediate velocities, while velocity did not have as strong an effect on ingestion rate in the other three species. As predicted from the feeding experiments, all four species generally had greater abundance, attained a larger size, grew faster, and survived longer in flow regimes in which feeding is higher. Also as predicted, Membranipora had greater abundance, attained a larger size, grew faster, and survived longer than did the other three species both in slower and faster flow regimes in the field. Understanding how flow affects feeding can help predict the distribution and abundance of bryozoans in the field. Because especially efficient filterers like Membranipora can grow faster and have higher survival under a wide range of conditions of flow, this species may be able to outcompete many other species or take advantage of ephemeral habitats, thereby becoming a potentially effective invasive species as has been seen in the Gulf of Maine.
© The Author 2008
Pratt, Marney C., "Living Where the Flow is Right: How Flow Affects Feeding in Bryozoans" (2008). Biological Sciences: Faculty Publications, Smith College, Northampton, MA.