8. Problems in Bryozoan Analysis

Smith (1995, 238) identified a lack of data about the ecological requirements of modern bryozoans as a potential problem in palaeoenvironmental analysis. As most bryozoans are sessile, microenvironments are essential, meaning that modern surveys must have thorough enough sampling strategies to recognise changes in microenvironment (Smith 1995, 238). Taphonomy also presents problems, as key identification features may be destroyed. In archaeological situations, encrusting bryozoa may not survive the finds washing or sample sieving process if due care is not exercised. The turbulent nature of marine processes may mean that bryozoan colonies have been transported and are not autochthonous, although bryozoans that are in life position offer potential for palaeoenvironmental reconstruction (Smith 1995, 239). Floatoblasts are, by their nature, unlikely to be found in life position.

Quantification of bryozoa presents a challenge. While two small discrete colonies on an oyster valve may legitimately be recorded as two colonies, clusters of (say) Membranipora membranacea found within the residue of a bulk sediment sample may, in life, have been part of a much larger colony. In these cases it is perhaps preferable to simply record presence.


Internet Archaeology is an open access journal. Except where otherwise noted, content from this work may be used under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 (CC BY) Unported licence, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided that attribution to the author(s), the title of the work, the Internet Archaeology journal and the relevant URL/DOI are given.

University of York legal statements

File last updated: Thurs Aug 22 2013