Metabolic flexibility: the key to long-term evolutionary success in Bryozoa?
Oxygen consumption (MO2) and activity were evaluated in Antarctic Bryozoa. Three species representing two different morphologies, flat sheet, laminar forms, Isoseculiflustra tenuis and Kymella polaris, and the bush form Camptoplites bicornis were used. In Bryozoa, activity is measured as the proportion of colony zooids with their lophophores extended. In L. tenuis and K. polaris, residual analysis showed that the percentage of zooids with extended lophophores was not correlated with colony MO2. Lophophore extension is, therefore, a poor measure of activity, and other costs (e.g. growth, reproduction, storage) probably form the major metabolic Costs. MO2 per unit of ash-free dry mass (AFDM) in the laminar forms was low compared with other Antarctic marine invertebrates, but not lower than brachiopods and echinoderms. However, the lowest rate here, 16.8 mug O-2 g AFDM(-1) h(-1) for a K. polaris colony, is (to our knowledge) the lowest for any animal so far reported. MO2 per unit of AFDM for C. bicornis, however, is among the highest reported for sessile or slow moving Antarctic marine ectotherms, with values similar to those for bivalve and gastropod molluscs. The highest rate, 527 mug O-2 g AFDM(-1) h(-1) for one colony is (to our knowledge) the highest reported for polar animals of this type. Extreme diversity in metabolic strategy may explain the bryozoan long evolutionary record and great success in shallow marine environments worldwide.