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Microhabitat Variation and Patterns of Colony Growth and Feeding in a Marine Bryozoan

Beth Okamura
Ecology
Vol. 73, No. 4 (Aug., 1992), pp. 1502-1513
Published by: Wiley
DOI: 10.2307/1940693
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/1940693
Page Count: 12
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Microhabitat Variation and Patterns of Colony Growth and Feeding in a Marine Bryozoan
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Abstract

The influences of neighbors and flow regime on growth patterns and feeding rates of the bryozoan Electra pilosa were characterized in laboratory and field experiments. In laboratory studies, neighbors inhibited growth, while flow velocity exerted a negative effect on growth rates of isolated colonies but had no influence on growth rates of colonies with neighboring Electra upstream. There were no significant effects of neighborhood or flow on zooid dimensions. Field experiments, which only tested the influence of neighbors on growth, revealed a similar reduction in growth in the presence of neighbors. The growth responses displayed by Electra do not support predictions of adaptive strategy models: despite its noted range in colony morphology, Electra did not assume more runner-like shapes when growth conditions were poor. Rather, growth of Electra appeared to be a result of local astogenetic (colonial ontogenetic) rules. Colonies that fed from similar flows to those they had experienced in the laboratory provide evidence backing the common assumption that patterns of feeding result in growth responses and so may be related to fitness in colonial animals. Evidence that growth patterns resulted from feeding rates suggests a central role for the acquisition of food in the dynamics of benthic assemblages of suspension feeders.

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