Monday, 16 July 2012

New species of Bryozoans from Brazil.

Bryozoans, or Moss Animals, are colonial filter-feeding invertebrates that form encrusting or weed-like colonies. The individual 'animals' are on average about 0.5 mm in length, and live inside a protective covering from which they extend a crown of cilia-covered tentacles called a lophophore. These are not true individuals though as they develop as buds on the colony and share nutrients; for this reason they are referred to as 'zooids'. The colonies produce sexually by means of reproductive zooids that have gonads, but lack feeding apparatus. Bryozoans are widespread globally, but are often overlooked because they are small and the colonies resemble plants.

Members of the genus Bugula are widespread in temperate and tropical seas. Unlike other Bryozoans they have specialized defensive zooids called avicularia (due to their bird's-beak-like shape) which defend the colony in a manner similar to the soldier casts of Ants or Termites, although unlike these insects they are physically attached to the rest of the colony.

The anatomy of Bugula pacifica, a common Bryozoan on the Oregon coast. Lander University.

They are often considered to be fouling organism, because some species form dense colonies on ships, which increases the drag, raising fuel costs and slowing the vessel. Such colonies are carried from harbour to harbour by infested ships, and are therefore often eradicated as pests. However it is possible that some colonies in harbours are not harmful invaders, but unrecognized local species. Such species may themselves be threatened by invasive forms, or removing them may facilitate the colonization of a harbour by more harmful species.

In a paper published in the journal PLoS One on 12 July 2012, Leandro Vieira of the Departamento de Zoologia at the Instituto de Biociências at the Universidade de São PauloJudith Winston of the Virginia Museum of Natural History, and Karin Fehlauer-Ale of the Laboratório de Sistemática e Evolução de Bryozoa, Centro de Biologia Marinha also at the Universidade de São Paulo, describe the results of a study of Bugula on the southeastern Brazilian coast, in which they describe nine new species in the genus.

The first new species described is Bugula foliolata, (foliolata meaning leafy in Latin), found living on shells, stones and other Bryozoans at 0-3 meters depth in Sitio Forte Bay on Ilha Grande in the Angra dos Reis municipality in Rio de Janeiro State. This is reddish brown forms flat, fan-shaped colonies with branches 2-8 zooids wide.

Bugula foliolata. (Top & Middle) Light microscope images. (Bottom) Scanning electron microscope image. Vieira et al. (2012).

The second new species described is Bugula bowiei, named in honour of the British musician David Bowie. This forms yellow-brown fan-shaped or spiral colonies, and was found growing on panels, stones, algae and other Bryozoans at 0-3 meters depth on Ilha do Mel in Paraná State, at Maceió in Alagoas State and at São Sebastião in São Paulo State.

Scanning electron microscope images of Bugula bowiei. Vieira et al. (2012).

The third new species described is Bugula guara, named for ‘Guará’, a local name for the Scarlet Ibis. This was found growing in erect colonies on algae, stones and other bryozoans at 5–15 meters depth on Ilha Grande in Rio de Janeiro State. The colonies were translucent white, but turned scarlet on immersion in alcohol.

Bugula guara. (Top) Light microscope images showing the fixation process in alcohol 92.2%, (C) after 10 seconds, (D) after 30 seconds, (E) after 60 seconds and (F) after 90 seconds. (Middle and Bottom) Scanning electron microscope images. Vieira et al. (2012).

The next species described is Bugula alba, (alba meaning white), found growing in small, delicate colonies on the algae Sargassum sp. on Riacho Doce beach at Maceió in Alagoas State.

Scanning electron microscope images of Bugula albaVieira et al. (2012).

The fifth species is Bugula migottoi, named after Alvaro Migotto of the Centro de Biologia Marinha at the Universidade de São Paulo, an expert on marine invertebrates who helped with the collection of Bryozoans for this study. This forms small, erect, brownish-red colonies found on algae and stones, in association with other cryptic bryozoans, as well as among hydroids and larger erect bryozoan colonies at 0–20 meters depth at Angra dos Reis in Rio de Janeiro State, São Sebastião in São Paulo State and Ilha do Mel in Paraná State.

Scaning electron microscope images of Bugula migottoiVieira et al. (2012).

The sixth species described is Bugula biota, named in honour of the Biota-FAPESP Program, which  both funds and promotes the study of biodiversity in Brazil. This forms erect yellowish or brownish colonies with alternating long and short zooids. This was found growing on panels and algae at depths of 0-3 meters at São Sebastião in São Paulo State.

Bugula biota. (Top) Light microscope image of individual avicularia. (B) Scanning electron microscope image of part of colony. (C) Scanning electron microscope image of individual avicularia. Vieira et al. (2012).

The seventh new species described is Bugula gnoma, where gnomus means dwarf in Latin, on account of the small size of the avicularia, which forms small, translucent white colonies with elongate zooids on Sargassum algae. This was found at Riacho Doce beach at Maceió and at Marechal Deodoro, both in Alagoas State.

Bugula gnoma. (Top) Scanning electron microscope image of part of a colony. (Middle) Light microscope image of an individual avicularia. (Bottom) Scanning electron microscope image of an individual avicularia. Vieira et al. (2012).

The eighth species described is Bugula ingens, ingens meaning huge in Latin, on account of the large size of the avicularia, which forms erect, transparent tan colonies. This was found growing on stones at 5–15 meters depth, at Angra dos Reis in Rio de Janeiro State.

Bugula ingens. (Top) Light microscope image of an individual avicularia. (Middle) scanning electron microscope image of part of a colony. (Bottom) Scanning electron microscope image of an individual avicularia. Vieira et al. (2012).

The final species described is Bugula rochae, named after Rosana Moreira Rocha of the Universidade Federal do Paraná, who collected some of the specimens used in this study. This forms erect, yellowish tan, translucent colonies, and was found growing on stones at depths of 0-1 meters on Ilha do Mel in Paraná State and at Santos in São Paulo State.

Bugula rochae. (Top) Light microscope image of an individual avicularia. (Middle) Scanning electron microscope image of part of a colony. (Bottom) Scanning electron microscope image of an individual avicularia. Vieira et al. (2012).

See also Deep-sea Gastropods from Miocene Cold Seeps and Whale-falls in JapanA possible bilaterally symmetrical Echinoderm from SpainThirteen new species of interstitial Gastropods from New ZealandFloating Japanese dock brings fears of invasive species to Oregon and The enigmatic Carboniferous Arthropod Camptophyllia.

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