The influence of seawater temperature on zooid size and growth rate inPentapora fascialis(Bryozoa: Cheilostomata)

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Zooid size variation and growth banding in the bryozoan Pentapora fascialis, collected from the South of Great Britain to the South of Italy, were investigated in order to test their relationship with the variation of seawater temperature. Zooid length appeared to be more sensitive than zooid area and width to temperature variation. The longest zooids were budded in localities that typically experience low seasonal variation in temperature (3.2–7.5°C) and low mean annual temperature (about 11°C). Zooid length demonstrated the strongest relationship with the range of seasonal variation in temperature rather than the mean annual temperature. Growth bands produced during colder months were less high than those produced during warmer months. Measurements of these alternating bands were used to calculate growth rate of the laminae, ranging from 20.7 at Plymouth to 29.3 mm year-1 at Tino Island. Significant differences in zooid length were found between the two bands, with longer zooids within the band developed in colder months and shorter zooids in bands produced in the warmer period. We conclude that zooid size can be used as an environmental proxy of the seasonal temperature regimes experienced by the species.

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