Poster Australian Marine Sciences Association 2022

Troubled Waters: Assessing the Impact of Rising Temperatures on the Invasive Bryozoan, Watersipora subatra. (#476)

Tyler M Feary 1 , Abigail M Smith 1
  1. Marine Sciences, University of Otago, Dunedin, New Zealand

Watersipora subatra is a widely invasive, colonial, Cheilostome bryozoan found locally in Dunedin. The aim of this study is to assess the effect of temperature change on the growth, survival, and calcification of W. subatra, and highlight its suitability as a model species for understanding this across the wider Cheilostomatida. In order to fully realise this, it is also required to understand the effect of different feeding regimes with the goal of finding a suitable regime for sustaining colonies in a laboratory environment over different seasons.

This research is important as it addresses the potential for invasion by W. subatra in a warmed ocean, but also through the application of W. subatra as a model species provides insight on the possible responses of Cheilostome bryozoans in general. Bryozoans are responsible for numerous ecosystem services and processes – sediment formation, substrate stabilization, three-dimensional niche space, reef formation, and driving biodiversity. Despite their importance, they are a poorly-studied phylum, and much of the research that has been performed is plagued by inconsistent methodology and a lack of baseline data - fixing this is something this research endeavors to contribute to1,2,3.

  1. Smith, A. M. (2009). Bryozoans as southern sentinels of ocean acidification: a major role for a minor phylum. Marine and Freshwater Research, 60(5), 475.
  2. Smith, A. M. (2014). Growth and calcification of marine bryozoans in a changing ocean [Report]. The Biological Bulletin, 226, 203+.
  3. Smith, A. M. (2018). Addicted to Bryozoans [Essay]. Junctures: The Journal for Thematic Dialogue, 37+.