Sponge chemical defenses are a possible mechanism for increasing sponge abundance on reefs in Zanzibar.
ABSTRACT: Coral reefs are experiencing increasing anthropogenic impacts that result in substantial declines of reef-building corals and a change of community structure towards other benthic invertebrates or macroalgae. Reefs around Zanzibar are exposed to untreated sewage and runoff from the main city Stonetown. At many of these sites, sponge cover has increased over the last years. Sponges are one of the top spatial competitors on reefs worldwide. Their success is, in part, dependent on their strong chemical defenses against predators, microbial attacks and other sessile benthic competitors. This is the first study that investigates the bioactive properties of sponge species in the Western Indian Ocean region. Crude extracts of the ten most dominant sponge species were assessed for their chemical defenses against 35 bacterial strains (nine known as marine pathogens) using disc diffusion assays and general cytotoxic activities were assessed with brine shrimp lethality assays. The three chemically most active sponge species were additionally tested for their allelopathic properties against the scleractinian coral competitor Porites sp.. The antimicrobial assays revealed that all tested sponge extracts had strong antimicrobial properties and that the majority (80%) of the tested sponges were equally defended against pathogenic and environmental bacterial strains. Additionally, seven out of ten sponge species exhibited cytotoxic activities in the brine shrimp assay. Moreover, we could also show that the three most bioactive sponge species were able to decrease the photosynthetic performance of the coral symbionts and thus were likely to impair the coral physiology.
Project description:Ecological studies have rarely been performed at the community level across a large biogeographic region. Sponges are now the primary habitat-forming organisms on Caribbean coral reefs. Recent species-level investigations have demonstrated that predatory fishes (angelfishes and some parrotfishes) differentially graze sponges that lack chemical defenses, while co-occurring, palatable species heal, grow, reproduce, or recruit at faster rates than defended species. Our prediction, based on resource allocation theory, was that predator removal would result in a greater proportion of palatable species in the sponge community on overfished reefs. We tested this prediction by performing surveys of sponge and fish community composition on reefs having different levels of fishing intensity across the Caribbean. A total of 109 sponge species was recorded from 69 sites, with the 10 most common species comprising 51.0% of sponge cover (3.6-7.7% per species). Nonmetric multidimensional scaling indicated that the species composition of sponge communities depended more on the abundance of sponge-eating fishes than geographic location. Across all sites, multiple-regression analyses revealed that spongivore abundance explained 32.8% of the variation in the proportion of palatable sponges, but when data were limited to geographically adjacent locations with strongly contrasting levels of fishing pressure (Cayman Islands and Jamaica; Curaçao, Bonaire, and Martinique), the adjusted R(2) values were much higher (76.5% and 94.6%, respectively). Overfishing of Caribbean coral reefs, particularly by fish trapping, removes sponge predators and is likely to result in greater competition for space between faster-growing palatable sponges and endangered reef-building corals.
Project description:Decreasing coral cover on the Great Barrier Reef (GBR) may provide opportunities for rapid growth and expansion of other taxa. The bioeroding sponges Cliona spp. are strong competitors for space and may take advantage of coral bleaching, damage, and mortality. Benthic surveys of the inshore GBR (2005-2014) revealed that the percent cover of the most abundant bioeroding sponge species, Cliona orientalis, has not increased. However, considerable variation in C. orientalis cover, and change in cover over time, was evident between survey locations. We assessed whether biotic or environmental characteristics were associated with variation in C. orientalis distribution and abundance. The proportion of fine particles in the sediments was negatively associated with the presence-absence and the percent cover of C. orientalis, indicating that the sponge requires exposed habitat. The cover of corals and other sponges explained little variation in C. orientalis cover or distribution. The fastest increases in C. orientalis cover coincided with the lowest macroalgal cover and chlorophyll a concentration, highlighting the importance of macroalgal competition and local environmental conditions for this bioeroding sponge. Given the observed distribution and habitat preferences of C. orientalis, bioeroding sponges likely represent site-specific - rather than regional - threats to corals and reef accretion.
Project description:<h4>Background</h4>Restoration is increasingly implemented to reestablish habitat structure and function following physical anthropogenic disturbance, but scientific knowledge of effectiveness of methods lags behind demand for guidelines. On coral reefs, recovery is largely dependent on coral reestablishment, and substratum stability is critical to the survival of coral fragments and recruits. Concrete is often used to immobilize rubble, but its ecological performance has not been rigorously evaluated, and restoration has generally fallen short of returning degraded habitat to pre-disturbance conditions. Fragments of erect branching sponges mediate reef recovery by facilitating rubble consolidation, yet such natural processes have been largely overlooked in restoring reefs.<h4>Methods</h4>On two reefs in Curacao, four treatments - coral rubble alone, rubble seeded with sponge fragments, rubble bound by concrete, and concrete "rubble" bound by concrete - were monitored over four years to investigate rubble consolidation with and without sponges and the ecological performance of treatments in terms of the number and diversity of coral recruits. Species specific rates of sponge fragment attachment to rubble, donor sponge growth and tissue replacement, and fragment survival inside rubble piles were also investigated to evaluate sponge species performance and determine rates for sustainably harvesting tissue. FINDINGS/SIGNIFICANCE: Rubble piles seeded with sponges retained height and shape to a significantly greater degree, lost fewer replicates to water motion, and were significantly more likely to be consolidated over time than rubble alone. Significantly more corals recruited to sponge-seeded rubble than to all other treatments. Coral diversity was also greatest for rubble with sponges and it was the only treatment to which framework building corals recruited. Differences in overall sponge species performance suggest species selection is important to consider. Employing organisms that jump start successional pathways and facilitate recovery can significantly improve restoration outcomes; however, best practices require techniques be tailored to each system.
Project description:Marine sponges are vital components of benthic and coral reef ecosystems, providing shelter and nutrition for many organisms. In addition, sponges act as an essential carbon and nutrient link between the pelagic and benthic environment by filtering large quantities of seawater. Many sponge species harbor a diverse microbial community (including Archaea, Bacteria and Eukaryotes), which can constitute up to 50% of the sponge biomass. Sponges of the genus Cinachyrella are common in Caribbean and Floridian reefs and their archaeal and bacterial microbiomes were explored here using 16S rRNA gene tag pyrosequencing. Cinachyrella specimens and seawater samples were collected from the same South Florida reef at two different times of year. In total, 639 OTUs (12 archaeal and 627 bacterial) belonging to 2 archaeal and 21 bacterial phyla were detected in the sponges. Based on their microbiomes, the six sponge samples formed two distinct groups, namely sponge group 1 (SG1) with lower diversity (Shannon-Weiner index: 3.73 ± 0.22) and SG2 with higher diversity (Shannon-Weiner index: 5.95 ± 0.25). Hosts' 28S rRNA gene sequences further confirmed that the sponge specimens were composed of two taxa closely related to Cinachyrella kuekenthalli. Both sponge groups were dominated by Proteobacteria, but Alphaproteobacteria were significantly more abundant in SG1. SG2 harbored many bacterial phyla (>1% of sequences) present in low abundance or below detection limits (<0.07%) in SG1 including: Acidobacteria, Chloroflexi, Gemmatimonadetes, Nitrospirae, PAUC34f, Poribacteria, and Verrucomicrobia. Furthermore, SG1 and SG2 only had 95 OTUs in common, representing 30.5 and 22.4% of SG1 and SG2's total OTUs, respectively. These results suggest that the sponge host may exert a pivotal influence on the nature and structure of the microbial community and may only be marginally affected by external environment parameters.
Project description:Shallow warm-water and deep-sea cold-water corals engineer the coral reef framework and fertilize reef communities by releasing coral mucus, a source of reef dissolved organic matter (DOM). By transforming DOM into particulate detritus, sponges play a key role in transferring the energy and nutrients in DOM to higher trophic levels on Caribbean reefs via the so-called sponge loop. Coral mucus may be a major DOM source for the sponge loop, but mucus uptake by sponges has not been demonstrated. Here we used laboratory stable isotope tracer experiments to show the transfer of coral mucus into the bulk tissue and phospholipid fatty acids of the warm-water sponge Mycale fistulifera and cold-water sponge Hymedesmia coriacea, demonstrating a direct trophic link between corals and reef sponges. Furthermore, 21-40% of the mucus carbon and 32-39% of the nitrogen assimilated by the sponges was subsequently released as detritus, confirming a sponge loop on Red Sea warm-water and north Atlantic cold-water coral reefs. The presence of a sponge loop in two vastly different reef environments suggests it is a ubiquitous feature of reef ecosystems contributing to the high biogeochemical cycling that may enable coral reefs to thrive in nutrient-limited (warm-water) and energy-limited (cold-water) environments.
Project description:Although coral reef health across the globe is declining as a result of anthropogenic impacts, relatively little is known of how environmental variability influences reef organisms other than corals and fish. Sponges are an important component of coral reef fauna that perform many important functional roles and changes in their abundance and diversity as a result of environmental change has the potential to affect overall reef ecosystem functioning. In this study, we examined patterns of sponge biodiversity and abundance across a range of environments to assess the potential key drivers of differences in benthic community structure. We found that sponge assemblages were significantly different across the study sites, but were dominated by one species Lamellodysidea herbacea (42% of all sponges patches recorded) and that the differential rate of sediment deposition was the most important variable driving differences in abundance patterns. Lamellodysidea herbacea abundance was positively associated with sedimentation rates, while total sponge abundance excluding Lamellodysidea herbacea was negatively associated with rates of sedimentation. Overall variation in sponge assemblage composition was correlated with a number of variables although each variable explained only a small amount of the overall variation. Although sponge abundance remained similar across environments, diversity was negatively affected by sedimentation, with the most sedimented sites being dominated by a single sponge species. Our study shows how some sponge species are able to tolerate high levels of sediment and that any transition of coral reefs to more sedimented states may result in a shift to a low diversity sponge dominated system, which is likely to have subsequent effects on ecosystem functioning.
Project description:Marine sponges play a major ecological role in recycling resources on coral reef ecosystems. The cycling of resources may largely depend on the stability of the host-microbiome interactions and their susceptibility to altered environmental conditions. Given the current coral to algal phase shift on coral reefs, we investigated whether the sponge-associated bacterial communities of four sponge species, with either high or low microbial abundances (HMA and LMA), remain stable at two reefs sites with different coral to algae cover ratios. Additionally, we assessed the bacterial community composition of two of these sponge species before and after a reciprocal transplantation experiment between the sites. An overall stable bacterial community composition was maintained across the two sites in all sponge species, with a high degree of host-specificity. Furthermore, the core bacterial communities of the sponges remained stable also after a 21-day transplantation period, although a minor shift was observed in less abundant taxa (< 1%). Our findings support the conclusion that host identity and HMA-LMA status are stronger traits in shaping bacterial community composition than habitat. Nevertheless, long-term microbial monitoring of sponges along with benthic biomass and water quality assessments are needed for identifying ecosystem tolerance ranges and tipping points in ongoing coral reef phase shifts.
Project description:Excavating sponges are prominent bioeroders on coral reefs that in comparison to other benthic organisms may suffer less or may even benefit from warmer, more acidic and more eutrophic waters. Here, the photosymbiotic excavating sponge Cliona orientalis from the Great Barrier Reef was subjected to a prolonged simulation of both global and local environmental change: future seawater temperature, partial pressure of carbon dioxide (as for 2100 summer conditions under "business-as-usual" emissions), and diet supplementation with particulate organics. The individual and combined effects of the three factors on the bioerosion rates, metabolic oxygen and carbon flux, biomass change and survival of the sponge were monitored over the height of summer. Diet supplementation accelerated bioerosion rates. Acidification alone did not have a strong effect on total bioerosion or survival rates, yet it co-occurred with reduced heterotrophy. Warming above 30?°C (+2.7?°C above the local maximum monthly mean) caused extensive bleaching, lower bioerosion, and prevailing mortality, overriding the other factors and suggesting a strong metabolic dependence of the sponge on its resident symbionts. The growth, bioerosion capacity and likelihood of survival of C. orientalis and similar photosymbiotic excavating sponges could be substantially reduced rather than increased on end-of-the-century reefs under "business-as-usual" emission profiles.
Project description:Sponges are key components of the benthic assemblages and play an important functional role in many ecosystems, especially in coral reefs. The Indonesian coral reefs, located within the so-called "coral triangle", are among the richest in the world. However, the knowledge of the diversity of sponges and several other marine taxa is far from being complete in the area. In spite of this great biodiversity, most of the information on Indonesian sponges is scattered in old and fragmented literature and comprehensive data about their diversity are still lacking. In this paper, we report the presence of 94 species recorded during different research campaigns mainly from the Marine Park of Bunaken, North Sulawesi. Six species are new for science and seven represent new records for the area. Several others are very poorly known species, sometimes recorded for the second time after their description. For most species, besides field data and detailed descriptions, pictures <i>in vivo</i> are included. Moreover, two new symbiotic sponge associations are described. This work aims to increase the basic knowledge of Indonesian sponge diversity as a prerequisite for monitoring and conservation of this valuable taxon.
Project description:<h4>Background</h4>Within tropical shallow-water coral reefs, marine sponges provide microhabitats for a wide range of fauna. Although there have been numerous studies and reports of symbiotic relationships amongst sponges and their associated fauna, those pieces of information are isolated and disconnected. For this reason, based on the available literature, we compiled a species-interaction dataset of coral reef marine sponge-associated fauna known to date.<h4>New information</h4>We introduce a dataset that includes 67 literature items that report 101 species of sponge hosts clustered in 12 Orders having a host/guest interaction with 284 guest species from six Phyla present in the Northwestern Tropical Atlantic coral reefs. This dataset consists of two types of information: 1. Machine-readable data and 2. Human-readable data. These two types of coding improve the scope of the dataset and facilitate the link between machine platforms and human-friendly displays. We also created an interactive visualisation of the species-interactions dataset and of a dynamic Chord Diagram of the host-guest species connections to generate a user-friendly link between the user and the dataset.