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Reteporella graeffei
(Kirchenpauer, 1869)

Bridget Bradshaw (2013)



Fact Sheet



Physical Description


Life History & Behaviour


Development & Settlement

Anatomy & Physiology

Colony structure

Zooid structure

Food capture & Digestive system

Circulatory & Excretory system

Nervous & Sensory system

Evolution & Systematics


Fossil record

Biogeographic Distribution

Conservation & Threats

Future research

References & Links


Reteporella graeffei is colonial and forms a lacy, fan-shaped calcareous exoskeleton.  As a whole, colonies of R. graeffei appear to be a pinky-orange color, though upon close observation, the zooids themselves are clear.  They can be found in high-flow reef zones clinging to the underside of large slabs of coral rubble, nestled amongst other fenestrate bryozoans such as Margaretta triplex and Triphyllozoan sp., creating a colorful community along with other sessile filter-feeding animals such as sponges and ascidians.  They are distinguishable from other lace corals by the slightly squashed shape of their labial pore, which is protected by 2-3 peristomal spines (see PHYSICAL DESCRIPTION). 

Little to nothing is known about their species-specific ecological role, particularly in the context of coral reefs (see ECOLOGY) though this comprises the majority of their known range—from the Great Barrier Reef and throughout the Indo-Pacifc, westwards to eastern Africa and potentially as far north as Japan (see BIOGEOGRAPHIC DISTRIBUTION).  Like all bryozoans, they are filter feeders and compete with the other sessile filter feeders for space.  Similarly, very little specific knowledge exists about their reproductive biology and ecology (SEE REPRODUCTION).  Much of the work on bryozoa has focused on their fossil record which is rich, particularly for the Cheilostomata (to which R.graeffei belongs) which preserve well due to their calcareous coating.  The cheilostomes are the youngest and most diverse clade within the Bryozoa (see PHYLOGENY), and may be important indicators of paeleoseasonality (see FOSSIL RECORD). 

R.graeffei is not listed on the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) ‘red list’ and knowledge of species trends in abundance or distribution is unknown.  It is possible that well-known threats to reefs such as rising sea levels, warming temperatures and increased acidity will both directly and indirectly affect R. graeffei (see CONSERVATION AND THREATS), though no research has been conducted on the matter (see FUTURE RESEARCH).

Photo: Bridget Bradshaw, Heron Island Reef, 2013.