Invasion History

First Non-native North American Tidal Record:
First Non-native West Coast Tidal Record:
First Non-native East/Gulf Coast Tidal Record:

General Invasion History:

Schizoporella pungens was described from the Gulf of Mexico at Cedar Keys, Florida, and from the Caribbean, east of Yucatan Mexico (Osburn 1940).  It is widely distributed from Indian River Lagoon Florida to Boca del Toro, Caribbean Panama, and Guajra, Colombian Caribbean (Montoya-Cadavid et al. 2007).  It has been reported from Brazil, but the identification is uncertain. 'D’Orbigny’s illustration (1842) shows a species which appears to be part of the Schizoporella errata complex. Brazilian species from this group seem slightly more similar morphologically to West African populations of the errata complex than to the Gulf of Mexico and Caribbean S. pungens (Vieira et al. 2008). Schizoporella pungens has been introduced to the Galapagos Islands, Hawaii, and Madeira (Canning-Clode et al. 2013; McCann et al. 2019; U.S. National Museum of Natural History 2021). 

North American Invasion History:

Invasion History Elsewhere in the World:

In the Pacific, Schizoporella pungens has been collected, genetically identified, and photographed from Kaneohe Bay, Oahu, Hawaii in 2017 (USNM 1610295, U.S. National Museum of Natural History 2021). In the Atlantic it was collected on fouling plates at Quinta do Lorde Marina, Madeira, off the coast of West Africa between 2006 and 2012 (Canning-Clode et al. 2013). Schizoporella pungens belongs to a family of bryozoans with short-lived larvae, so transport by hull fouling is most likely. 


Schizoporella pungens grows in extensive encrusting colonies forming single or multiple layers. The zooids are roughly rectangular, separated by deep furrows. The frontal surface is curved, with about 40 pseudopores. The orifice is roughly semicircular, slightly wider than long, with a narrow U-shaped sinus with prominent condyles. There is one avicularium (rarely two), next to or slightly below the orifice. The avicularium has a prominent beak, always oriented 45 degrees from the midline, pointing distolaterally or laterally. The zooids have no spines. The ovicell is roughly circular, perforated by numerous pseudopores. The ancestrula has 8 spines around the orifice. Zooids identified as S. pungens from the Galapagos average 0.487mm X 0.326mm, compared to 0.600 X 0.480 from S. pungens from Florida (Osburn 1940; McCann et al. 2019). Colors of the colonies are highly variable, with dark purple 'star-bursts', and ladder-like chains of unpigmented zooids, and often with orange at growing edges (McCann et al. 2021). Colonies in Florida and the West Indies often form erect horn-like structures on seagrasses and mangrove roots (Kaplan 1988; Creary 2003). 

The taxonomy of Schizoporella in the Eastern Pacific is in flux, but Schizoporella pungens in the Galapagos and Pacific Panama is clearly distinct from S. errata from Europe, or S. variabilis from San Francisco Bay, formerly identified as S. errata (McCann et al. 2019; Linda McCann, personal communication). 


Taxonomic Tree

Kingdom:   Animalia
Phylum:   Bryozoa
Class:   Gymnolaemata
Order:   Cheilostomata
Suborder:   Ascophora
Family:   Schizoporellidae
Genus:   Schizoporella
Species:   pungens


Schizoporella unicornis pungens (Canu and Bassler, 1928)
Schizoporella unicornis var. pungens ((Canu and Bassler), 1938)

Potentially Misidentified Species

Schixoporella errata
Schixoporella errata was described from the Mediterranean Sea, and is widely reported as an intorduction. However, it is a member of a species complex, and the identity of some introduced populations is uncertain (McCann et al. 2019).

Schixoporella floridana
Schixoporella floridana (Osburn 1914) was described from the Dry Tortugas, Florida.



Schizoporella pungens is widespread in tropical and subtropical marine waters in the Western Atlantic. Like other bryozoans, the colony feeds on suspended particles, mostly phytoplankton. It is known from coral reefs, mangroves, rocky intertidal marinas and docks (McCann et al. 2019). Western Atlantic populations can create elaborate erect coral-like structures, which are inhabited by many invertebrates, including shrimps and crabs (Kaplan 1988; Lindberg and Stanton 1988).

Schizoporella pungens reproduces asexually through fission of colonies and sexually through the production of eggs and sperm. Larvae have not been described, but probably are lecithotrophic. After a brief time in the plankton, the larva settles to become the first zooid of colony, the ancestrula (Barnes 1983). 


Phytoplankton, detritus

Trophic Status:

Suspension Feeder



General HabitatOyster ReefNone
General HabitatMarinas & DocksNone
General HabitatRockyNone
General HabitatCoral reefNone
General HabitatGrass BedNone
General HabitatMangrovesNone
Salinity RangePolyhaline18-30 PSU
Salinity RangeEuhaline30-40 PSU
Tidal RangeSubtidalNone
Vertical HabitatEpibenthicNone

Life History

Tolerances and Life History Parameters

Broad Temperature RangeNoneSubtropical-Tropical
Broad Salinity RangeNonePolyhaline-Euhaline

General Impacts

Schizoporella pungens is a widespread fouling organism in the Gulf of Mexico and the Caribbean, where the large, erect horn-like colonies provide habitat for invertebrates (Kaplan 1988; Lindberg and Stanton 1988; Creary 2013). Overall, impacts are unknown.

Regional Distribution Map

Bioregion Region Name Year Invasion Status Population Status
CAR-III None 0 Native Estab
CAR-I Northern Yucatan, Gulf of Mexico, Florida Straits, to Middle Eastern Florida 0 Native Estab
CAR-II None 0 Native Estab
CAR-IV None 0 Native Estab
SEP-H None 2004 Def Estab
CAR-VII Cape Hatteras to Mid-East Florida 0 Native Estab
NA-ET3 Cape Cod to Cape Hatteras 0 Native Unk
WA-I None 2010 Def Estab
PAN_PAC Panama Pacific Coast 2004 Def Estab
PAN_CAR Panama Caribbean Coast 0 Native Estab
SEP-Z None 2015 Def Estab
SP-XXI None 2017 Def Estab

Occurrence Map

OCC_ID Author Year Date Locality Status Latitude Longitude


Canning-Clode, João; Fofonoff, Paul; McCann, Linda; Carlton, James T.; Ruiz, Gregory (2013) Marine invasions on a subtropical island: fouling studies and new records in a recent marina on Madeira Island (Eastern Atlantic Ocean), Aquatic Invasions 8(3): 261-270

Chainho, Paula and 20 additional authors (2015) Non-indigenous species in Portuguese coastal areas, lagoons, estuaries, and islands, Estuarine, Coastal and Shelf Science <missing volume>: <missing location>

Creary, Marcia M. (2003) A simplified field guide to the bryozoan species found on the roots of the red mangrove (Rhizophora mangle) in and around Kingston Harbour, Jamaica, W.I., Bulletin of Marine Science 73(2): 521-526

Creary, Marcia; Webber, Mona (2009) <missing title>, Environmental Foundation of Jamaica, Kingston, Jamaica. Pp. 1-18

Kaplan, Eugene H. (1988) A Field Gude to Southeastern and Caribbean Seashores, In: (Eds.) . , Boston. Pp. <missing location>

Lambert, Gretchen (2019) Fouling ascidians (Chordata: Ascidiacea) of the Galápagos: Santa Cruz and Baltra Islands, Aquatic Invasions 14: 132-149

Lindberg, William J. ; Stanton, Gregg (1988) Bryozoan-associated decapod crustaceans: community patterns and a case of cleaning symbiosis between a shrimp and crab, Bulletin of Marine Science 42(3): 411-423

Marcus, Ernst (1937) Bryozoarios Marinhos Brasileiros, Boletim de faculdade de filosofia, Ciencias e Letras, Universidade de sao Paulo, Zoologia 1: 1-224

McCann, Linda; Keith, Inti; Carlton, James T.; Ruiz, Gregory M.; Dawson, Terence P.; Collins, Ken (2015) First record of the non-native bryozoan Amathia (= Zoobotryon) verticillata (delle Chiaje, 1822) (Ctenostomata) in the Galápagos Islands, BioInvasions Records 4: <missing location>

Montoya-Cadavid, Erika; Flórez-Romero, Paola; Winston, Judith E. (2007) Checklist of the marine Bryozoa of the Colombian Caribbean, Biota Colombiana 8(2): 159 -184

Osburn, Raymond C. (1940) Bryozoa of Porto Rico, N. Y. Academy of Sciences - Scientific Survey of Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands 16(3): 321-486

U.S. National Museum of Natural History 2002-2021 Invertebrate Zoology Collections Database. <missing description>

Vieira, Leandro M.; Migotto, Alvaro E.; Winston, Judith E. (2008) Synopsis and annotated checklist of Recent marine Bryozoa from Brazil, Zootaxa 1810: 1-39

Webb, Alan Charles (2007) Status of non-native freshwater fishes in tropical northern Queensland, including establishment success, rates of spread, range and introduction pathways, Journal and Proceedings of the Royal Society of New South Wales 149: 63-78

Winston, Judith E. (2004) Bryozoans from Belize, Atoll Research Bulletin 523: 1-14