Seasonality of polypide recycling and sexual reproduction in some erect Antarctic bryozoans
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The seasonality of polypide cycling has been investigated for three species of erect bryozoans from Antarctica: Isoseculiflustra rubefacta (Kluge, 1914), Nematoflustra flagellata (Waters, 1904) and Himantozoum antarcticum (Calvet, 1905). Approximately ten colonies of each species were collected monthly by SCUBA divers over a 14 mo period during 1992/1993, and the status of each individual zooid was classified as differentiating/regenerating, active (feeding autozooids), degenerate (brown body) or sexually reproductive (ovicells present, or zooid containing a larva). Polypide cycling in all three species was distinctly seasonal. New zooids formed at the growth margin and typically contained actively feeding polypides for ≃9 mo before these polypides degenerated into brown bodies in the austral winter (June). Very few polypides were active in the period from June to August, when water-column food levels were at their lowest; after this period new polypides differentiated. Individual zooids typically underwent a total of five (I. rubefacta and N. flagellata), or at least four (H. antarcticum) complete polypide cycles before becoming senescent. Polypide lifetimes generally became shorter as the age of the zooid increased. Sexual reproduction was also distinctly seasonal in these species, with bands of ovicells or sexually reproductive zooids being formed each year in late summer once a given colony had grown to a threshold size (or age). Larvae were then brooded for ≃10 mo before being released in January/February (N. flagellata) or February/March (H. antarcticum). The seasonal patterns of polypide cycling are related clearly to the variations in food availability, and these species appear to have the longest zooid lifetime (≃5 yr) and the slowest polypide cycling (once per year with polypide lifetimes up to 10 mo) reported for any bryozoan so far.
KeywordsFood Availability Seasonal Pattern Late Summer Sexual Reproduction Food Level
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