Magnificent Bryozoan (native species)

Magnificent Bryozoan (Pectinatella magnifica)

Bryozoans are microscopic colonial invertebrates that live in aquatic habitats. A majority of Bryozoans live in marine habitats; bryozoans in the class Phylactoaemata are exclusively found in freshwater environments, magnificent bryozoan being one of the few found in freshwater. Bryozoan colonies have been found within the SLELO PRISM including Deer Creek, Salmon River Estuary and the Upper and Lower Lakes WMA.


Bryozoa reproduce both sexually and asexually. A colony begins with the introduction of a single individual called a zooid that hatches from a hard seed-like structure called a “statoblast,” from this structure the zooid reproduces asexually creating a small colony of identical individuals.  The small colony then secretes a watery fluid that hardens forming their unique gelatinous structure. As the population of zooids within a colony grows, reproduction occurs asexually forming visible rosettes of 10-18 individuals.  Young bryozoan colonies are capable of fusing together before their gelatinous skeleton hardens forming large masses of multiple genotypes. Colonies of magnificent bryozoan can grow more than two feet across and form slimy translucent brown masses that are often found attached to floating sticks or an underwater substrate; in rare occasions bryozoan can be found free floating. Each zooid found within a colony has separate body parts, but share certain tissues and fluids with unify them. It is impossible to see individual zooids within a colony with the naked eye.


Bryozoa are filter feeders that feed on phytoplankton using a specialized organ called a lophophore which is shown in the diagram above. Individual zooids may filter an average of 8.8 ml of water/ day.

Fun Facts: 

Bryozoans a variety of chemical compounds that may have medicinal uses; a compound called drug bryostatin 1 is produced by a common marine bryozoan and is currently being tested for its ability to treat cancer.

Photo Credits:  

First title photo:Leslie J. Mehrhoff (bugwood.org). Second title photo: (U.S. Geological Survey Archive). Identification photo: Dr. Timothy S. Wood (Department of biological sciences, Wright University).


Dana Campbell. “Magnificent Bryozoan (Pectinatella Magnifica) – Information on Magnificent Bryozoan – Encyclopedia of Life.”Encyclopedia of Life. Encyclopedia of Life Community, n.d. Web. 22 July 2015. <http://eol.org/pages/601031/overview>.

“Introduction to the Bryozoa.” Ucmp.berkeley.edu. The University of California Berkeley, Museum of Paleontology, n.d. Web. 11 Aug. 2015. <http://www.ucmp.berkeley.edu/bryozoa/bryozoa.html>.

Wood, Timothy S. “Freshwater Bryozoans.” Freshwater Bryozoans. Department of Biological Sciences Wright State University, n.d. Web. 22 July 2015. <http://www.wright.edu/~tim.wood/bryozoans.html>.

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