Great Barrier Reef Bryozoa

based at the Museum of Tropical Queensland, Townsville

Introduction continued (4)

 Bryozoans are not intrinsically difficult to identify but a major handicap is a lack of popular-level literature. Certainly one needs a good microscope. For taxonomic study, bryozoan specialists employ different approaches. Bryozoans can be preserved in alcohol, usually 70% ethanol. This is critical for all members of the uncalcified order Ctenostomata, but has the benefit of preserving soft parts (which are not often studied), cuticular appendages like opercula and avicularian mandibles, and reproductive stages in the calcified forms. If one wants to do genetic analysis, then 90–100% ethanol is necessary. Owing to the fact that most bryozoans are calcified, however, bryozoologists may be happy to let them dry out and then soak small pieces in liquid domestic bleach (hypochlorite solution) to remove soft tissues and cuticular structures in order to arrive at a bleached skeleton, which is then photographed using a scanning electron microscope.

            The internet is becoming a superlative source of information on bryozoans. The best entry point for this information, and especially for photographs of Australian bryozoans, is The official website of the International Bryozoology Association is

Scratchpads developed and conceived by (alphabetical): Ed Baker, Katherine Bouton Alice Heaton Dimitris Koureas, Laurence Livermore, Dave Roberts, Simon Rycroft, Ben Scott, Vince Smith