Exploring the Diversity of Ectoprocts: From Mat-Forming Moss Animals to Jelly Balls

Where do most ectoprocts live? building what?

sea; reefs

Most ectoprocts, also known as moss animals or bryozoans, live in aquatic environments, such as oceans, lakes, and rivers. They build colonies of interconnected individuals, called zooids, which secrete protective external skeletons made up of calcium carbonate or chitin. These zooids can live in a variety of different structures, depending on the species of ectoproct. For example, some ectoprocts live in “mats” or “films” covering submerged rocks or plants, while others form tree-shaped structures called “fenestrates” or encrusting colonies on hard surfaces. Still, others live in free-floating colonies called “jelly balls.” Overall, ectoprocts are found in a wide range of aquatic habitats and exhibit incredible diversity in their colony structures.

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