MEPS 303:153-165 (2005)  -  doi:10.3354/meps303153

Consequences of coloniality: influence of colony form and size on feeding success inthe bryozoan Membranipora membranacea

Marney C. Pratt*

Biology Department, Duke University, Box 90338, Durham, North Carolina 27708, USA
Present address: Department of Biology, Bowdoin College, 6500 College Station, Brunswick, Maine 04011, USA

ABSTRACT: Colonial animals can grow in a wide variety of shapes and sizes, but certain forms have apparently evolved several times in different taxa. Using adaptive arguments to explain the evolution of colony form is tempting, but when testing the functional advantage of different colony forms, controlling for species differences is difficult. In this study, 1 species of bryozoan, Membranipora membranacea (Linnaeus, 1767), was grown into different colony shapes and sizes to test how colony form affected feeding performance. Clearance rate was measured for 3 colony forms (encrusting sheet, erect sheet, erect tree), and zooid ingestion rate was measured for 5 colony sizes (comprising of 1, 8, 16, 125, or 975 zooids). The 2 erect forms had higher clearance rates than did the encrusting sheet form at a freestream velocity of 3 cm s–1. At this velocity, erect colonies experienced less refiltration and yet benefited from feeding in a downstream wake. For encrusting colonies the change in ingestion rate per zooid with colony size was non-linear. Overall, zooid ingestion rate increased from 1 to 16 zooids, decreased for small colonies (with ~125 zooids), and then increased again for medium colonies (with ~975 zooids). Colonies with 8 or more zooids had higher feeding success than single zooids, suggesting a feeding advantage to zooids in a colony. Conversely, small and medium colonies had lower mean ingestion rates than colonies with 8 or 16 zooids, suggesting a feeding cost for increasing beyond a relatively small size.

KEY WORDS: Membranipora membranacea · Bryozoan · Colony form · Colony size · Particle capture · Suspension-feeding · Clearance rate

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