Lesser and Slattery 2019

scientific article | Ecosphere | open access

Sponge density increases with depth throughout the Caribbean: Reply

Lesser MP, Slattery M


Our recent paper in Ecosphere (Lesser and Slattery 2018) addressed an important question in coral reef ecology: Does sponge biomass and/or abundance increase with depth over the shallow (<30 m)‐to‐mesophotic (~30–150 m) gradient? Scott and Pawlik (2018), based on a review of 17 studies, concluded that the “sponge increase hypothesis” is not supported. It is important to note that any hypothesis is a “strawman” that may ultimately fall under additional scientific scrutiny, and that a more complete understanding of mesophotic coral ecosystems (MCEs) is currently hindered by the limited number of studies at these depths (Loya et al. 2016). Nonetheless, using both historical and contemporary data, we demonstrated a global phenomenon of increasing sponge density with depth on tropical shallow and mesophotic reefs (Lesser and Slattery 2018: Fig. 3; R2 = 0.449, P <<< 0.001) that supports the sponge increase hypothesis.

Depth range
30- 150 m

Mesophotic “mentions”
19 x (total of 1428 words)

* Focused on `mesophotic` depth range
* Focused on `mesophotic coral ecosystem`

Community structure

Porifera (Sponges)

Puerto Rico

Autonomous Underwater Vehicle (AUV)
Remotely Operated Vehicle (ROV)
SCUBA (open-circuit or unspecified)

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