provided by British Antarctic Survey
Yellow, orange, pink or white in colour. This brittle, foliaceous species is typically 4-20cm high and wide. It differs from most other bryozoans and animals by being ‘fenestrate’; that is, having lots of pores or windows in its walls. It is endemic to Antarctica and is the largest species in a highly speciose genus, at least 8 of which also occur in the Southern Ocean.
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20m to deep water, on hard substrates from the Scotia Arc islands to the Antarctic Peninsula and Ross Sea.
In shallow water R. frigida tends to occur in ice-sheltered ledges, cliffs and overhangs but also occurs as small colonies on other animals such as ascidians. The foliose colonies it builds are frequently home to many species, such as worms (particularly polychaetes), amphipods, isopods and sea cucumbers. R. frigida, like all bryozoans, is a suspension feeder eating smaller phytoplankton. It feeds for about half the year when phytoplankton is most abundant.
The main predators of R. frigida are probably nudibranch sea slugs, though seastars and echinoids probably eat it incidentally.
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