Bryozoan research

Bryozoan research at the Museum focuses on the evolutionary history and palaeoecology of this phylum of colonial invertebrates.

An informative but neglected group

Compared with most other invertebrate groups possessing comparably rich fossil records, bryozoans have been neglected, in part because of their difficult taxonomy. 

Yet bryozoans not only offer unique insights into the evolution of coloniality, but can also provide valuable information on palaeoenvironments, for example temperature seasonality.

Interdisciplinary research

The Natural History Museum has a comprehensive collection of both fossil and living bryozoans and much of our research is interdisciplinary, spanning palaeontology and zoology. 

Our work integrates such diverse disciplines as:

  • molecular phylogeny
  • alpha taxonomy
  • geochemistry
  • palaeoecology

Current research

Follow the links below for details about individual projects.

  • Molecular phylogeny of cyclostome bryozoans compared to traditional subordinal classification
    Bryozoan phylogeny

    This project uses DNA analysis of nuclear ribosomal genes and mitochondrial genes to investigate the molecular phylogeny of bryozoans.

  • Living colony of the cheilostome bryozoan Myriapora truncata
    Bryozoan skeletal mineralogy and ocean acidification

    Cheilostome bryozoans use 2 different forms of calcium carbonate for their skeletons. We are investigating the switch of some clades to aragonite, the more soluble form, and the effects of ocean acidification on colonies.

  • Scanning electron micrograph of the mid-Cretaceous cheilostome bryozoan Wilbertopora acuminata
    Evolution and taxonomy of Mesozoic bryozoans

    By carrying out taxonomic studies of selected bryozoan groups and faunas we aim to provide a better understanding of the significant diversification that occurred during the mid-late Mesozoic.

  • Graph of annual temperature ranges across the North Atlantic
    MART analysis

    Find out how MART (Mean Annual Range of Temperature) analysis using cheilostome bryozoans is being employed by Museum researchers to address palaeoclimatic issues.

Fossil bryozoan researchers