bryo = 'moss' , zoa = 'animal'
The phylum Bryozoa is a diverse group of colonial invertebrates, with greater than 7,000 species. Colonies are made of small modules called zooids that are on the order of 1 mm in length. Zooids bud asexually to form a colony of many zooids. These zooids remain attached to each other and can generally share resources. A colony of 12 zooids and the generalized zooid structure are shown in the figure below.
The zooid is made of a box-like or cylindrical protective housing. The housing protects the polypide, which consists of the digestive tract and the feeding structure called the lophophore. The lophophore is a cilliated crown of tentacles that surrounds the mouth. The cilia on the tentacles create a current that brings water laden with food particles (usually phytoplankton) down through the center of the crown and out the base.
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Last modified October 8, 2004