Publications:

Lesser and Slattery 2018


scientific article | Ecosphere | open access

Sponge density increases with depth throughout the Caribbean

Lesser MP, Slattery M



Abstract

Mesophotic coral reefs (MCEs) are ecologically unique components of coral reef ecosystems that occur at depths from ~30 to 150 m where they support a high number of depth-endemic species. One ecologically important taxonomic group that can, especially in the Caribbean basin, dominate these habitats are sponges where they occur throughout the shallow (<30 m) to mesophotic depth range. There are an increasing number of studies on MCEs generally, and sponges have become a focal area for many of these studies as they exhibit a number of ecological and functional traits that vary with increasing depth. Here, we use an analysis of both historical and contemporary data to test the recently described “sponges increase with depth” hypothesis. While this hypothesis has recently been rejected without benefit of any quantitative analysis, we show that the density or percent cover of sponges increases over the shallow to mesophotic depth range for multiple reef sites in the Caribbean, and also in the Pacific at selected sites. The proximate cause for this pattern appears to be the increasing availability of trophic resources, and the ability to differentially use those resources, with increasing depth. The increase in sponge density or percent cover with depth is potentially global in nature and results in diverse, and unique, sponge-dominated communities at mesophotic depths.

Keywords
Meta-data (pending validation)
Depth range
10- 150 m

Mesophotic “mentions”
39 x (total of 2736 words)

Classification
* Presents original data
* Focused on `mesophotic` depth range
* Focused on `mesophotic coral ecosystem`

Fields
Ecology

Focusgroups
Porifera (Sponges)

Locations
Bahamas
Cayman Islands
Jamaica
Republic of Palau
Belize
Curaçao
Honduras - Bay Islands

Platforms
Manned Submersible
SCUBA (open-circuit or unspecified)

Author profiles
Michael P. Lesser ( 19 pubs)
Marc Slattery ( 17 pubs)