Abstract We investigate the effect of the temperature-size rule upon zooids of the tropical American bryozoan Cupuladria exfragminis. Results show that mean zooid length, zooid width and zooid area vary significantly between clonal replicates of C. exfragminis kept under different controlled temperature conditions. Significantly larger zooids are produced during times of lowered water temperature that are comparable with the temperatures that occur during seasonal upwelling along the Pacific coast of Panama where the animal lives in abundance. Interpolation of data suggests that a drop of 1 oC causes a 5% increase in zooid size, and that almost all variation in zooid size in natural populations can be explained by temperature. Results are discussed in context of the potential use of zooid size variation in cupuladriid bryozoans to measure the strength of seasonal upwelling in ancient seas by analysing zooid size changes in fossil colonies. The technique of cloning cupuladriid colonies by fragmentation is also discussed with reference to its benefits in experimental studies where genotypes need to be controlled or replicated.