Tuesday 9 April 2013

A new species of Bryozoan from the Atlantic coast of Iberia.

Bryozoans of the genus Pseudoflustra are found around the Arctic Circle, having apparently colonized the shores of the Arctic Ocean from the North Pacific 3-3.5 million years ago. They form colonies of connected zooids, typically less than 50 mm in height, attached to rocks or other solid substrates in coastal regions, feeding by capturing food particles suspended in the water with a crown of tentacles called a lophophore.

In a paper published in the journal PLoS One on 25 March 2013, a team of scientists led by Piotr Kuklinski of the Institute of Oceanology at the Polish Academy of Sciences and the Natural History Museum in London describe a new species of Bryozoan in the genus Pseudoflustra, discovered living on the Atlantic coast of Iberia during a review of the distribution of species in the genus.

The new species is named Pseudoflustra radeki, after Radek Szczeçh, a friend of the authors who died suddenly in 2010. The species forms threadlike branching colonies, with the zooids arranged facing in alternate directions on the threads. The colonies were found living at depths of 450-630 m.

Pseudoflustra radeki (top) detail of colony showing alternating zooids; (bottom) individual zooid. Scake bars are 500 μm. Kuklinski et al. (2013).

The study revealed a greater diversity of deepwater Atlantic Psuedoflustra than had previously been appreciated, suggesting that there may be more, as yet undiscovered, species living in the poorly sampled Atlantic deeps. This in turn raises the possibility that the genus may have spread into the Arctic Ocean not from the North Pacific, as generally assumed, but from the cold, deep, waters of the Atlantic.

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