MEPS 280:145-161 (2004)  -  doi:10.3354/meps280145

Life history variation in cupuladriid bryozoans from either side of the Isthmus of Panama

Aaron O¹Dea1,2,*, Amalia Herrera-Cubilla1, Helena Fortunato1, Jeremy B. C. Jackson1,2

1Center for Tropical Paleoecology and Archeology, Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute, Box 2072, Balboa, Ancon, Republic of Panama
2Geosciences Research Division, Scripps Institution of Oceanography University of California, San Diego La Jolla, California 92093-0244, USA
*Email:

ABSTRACT: Cupuladriid bryozoans are able to produce new colonies both sexually through the production of larvae and asexually via fragmentation. The prevalence of asexual propagation and the physical and biological processes of fragmentation in cupuladriid species are currently little understood. In a large survey comprising collections of nearly 32000 cupuladriids from either side of the Isthmus of Panama, patterns of cupuladriid species richness, occurrence and abundance were measured together with levels of asexual propagation, fragmentation and regeneration. The Caribbean side is characterised by greater cupuladriid diversity and dominance of the genus Cupuladria over Discoporella while the eastern Pacific coast is characterised by lower cupuladriid diversity and complete dominance of Discoporella. Life history variation was not found to be constrained by phylogeny and no systematic differences were found in life history or morphologies between Cupuladria and Discoporella to explain the patterns in generic dominance across the isthmus. Nonetheless, striking differences occur in life history strategies across the isthmus. Eastern Pacific species tend to be large, flat and lightly calcified, resulting in high levels of fragmentation and hence asexual propagation. Conversely, Caribbean species produce a wider range of morphologies, including small, highly domed and highly calcified colonies that protect from fragmentation. By correlating colony morphologies with reproductive life histories within species, we show that morphologies, particularly colony strength and size, control levels of fragmentation and thus mode of propagation in cupuladriids. Life history strategies that promote asexual propagation are found to track levels of primary productivity both between oceans across the isthmus and between regions within oceans.


KEY WORDS: Asexual · Sexual · Life history · Cupuladriid · Bryozoa · Reproduction · Panama


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