Nav: Home

Large sponges may be reattached to coral reefs

April 27, 2009

Key Largo, Fla. - April 27, 2009 - A new study appearing in Restoration Ecology describes a novel technique for reattaching large sponges that have been dislodged from coral reefs. The findings could be generally applied to the restoration of other large sponge species removed by human activities or storm events.

20 specimens of the Caribbean giant barrel sponge were removed and reattached at Conch Reef off of Key Largo, Florida in 2004 and 2005 at depths of 15m and 30m. The sponges were affixed to the reef using sponge holders consisting of polyvinyl chloride piping, which was anchored in a concrete block that was set on a plastic mesh base.

Though the test area endured four hurricanes during the study period, 62.5 percent of sponges survived at least 2.3-3 years and 90 percent of the sponges attached in deep water locations survived. The sponges reattached to the reef after being held stationary by sponge holders for as little as 6 months.

Large sponges may be damaged by a variety of natural events and human activities including severe storms, vessel groundings and the cutting movements of chain or rope moved along with debris by strong currents. After these events, detached large sponges are commonly found, still alive and intact, between reef spurs on sand or rubble where they slowly erode under the action of oscillating currents.

"The worldwide decline of coral reef ecosystems has prompted many local restoration efforts, which typically focus on reattachment of reef-building corals," says Professor Joseph Pawlik of the University of North Carolina-Wilmington, co-author of the study. "Despite their dominance on coral reefs, large sponges are generally excluded from restoration efforts because of a lack of suitable methods for sponge reattachment."

These sponges, which often exceed reef-building corals in abundance, can be more than 1m in diameter and may be hundreds or thousands of years old. The success of past attempts at reattaching sponges, which used cement or epoxy, has been limited because adhesives do not bind to sponge tissue. When damaged or dislodged, large sponges usually die because they are unable to reattach to the reef. The results of the study show that these sponges have the ability to reattach to the reef if they can be properly secured.
-end-
This study is published in Restoration Ecology. Media wishing to receive a PDF of this article may contact journalnews@bos.blackwellpublishing.net.

Joseph Pawlik, Ph.D., is Professor, Biological Sciences and Center for Marine Science, at UNC-Wilmington. He can be reached for question at pawlikj@uncw.edu.

Restoration Ecology fosters the exchange of ideas among the many disciplines involved in the process of ecological restoration. Addressing global concerns and communicating them to the international scientific community, the journal is at the forefront of a vital new direction in science and ecology. Original papers describe experimental, observational, and theoretical studies on terrestrial, marine, and freshwater systems, and are considered without taxonomic bias. For more information, please visit www.blackwell-synergy.com/loi/rec.

Wiley-Blackwell was formed in February 2007 as a result of the acquisition of Blackwell Publishing Ltd. by John Wiley & Sons, Inc., and its merger with Wiley's Scientific, Technical, and Medical business. Together, the companies have created a global publishing business with deep strength in every major academic and professional field. Wiley-Blackwell publishes approximately 1,400 scholarly peer-reviewed journals and an extensive collection of books with global appeal. For more information on Wiley-Blackwell, please visit www.blackwellpublishing.com or http://interscience.wiley.com.

Wiley

Related Coral Reefs Articles:

3-D printed coral could help endangered reefs
Threats to coral reefs are everywhere--rising water temperatures, ocean acidification, coral bleaching, fishing and other human activities.
Actions to save coral reefs could benefit all ecosystems
Scientists say bolder actions to protect the world's coral reefs will benefit all ecosystems, human livelihoods and improve food security.
Coral reefs shifting away from equator
Coral reefs are retreating from equatorial waters and establishing new reefs in more temperate regions, according to new research in the journal Marine Ecology Progress Series.
Protecting coral reefs in a deteriorating environment
A new report examines novel approaches for saving coral reefs imperiled by climate change, and how local decision-makers can assess the risks and benefits of intervention.
Coral reefs can't return from acid trip
When put to the test, corals and coralline algae are not able to acclimatise to ocean acidification.
New eDNA technology used to quickly assess coral reefs
Scientists at the University of Hawai`i at Mānoa Department of Biology have developed a technique for measuring the amount of living coral on a reef by analyzing DNA in small samples of seawater.
Global warming disrupts recovery of coral reefs
The damage caused to the Great Barrier Reef by global warming has compromised the capacity of its corals to recover, according to new research published today in Nature.
Coral reefs near equator less affected by ocean warming
Ocean warming is threatening coral reefs globally, with persistent thermal stress events degrading coral reefs worldwide, but a new study has found that corals at or near the equator are affected less than corals elsewhere.
How sponges undermine coral reefs from within
Coral reefs are demolished from within, by bio-eroding sponges. Seeking refuge from predators, these sponges bore tunnels into the carbonate coral structures, thus weakening the reefs.
A glimmer of hope for the world's coral reefs
The future of the world's coral reefs is uncertain, as the impact of global heating continues to escalate.
More Coral Reefs News and Coral Reefs Current Events

Best Science Podcasts 2019

We have hand picked the best science podcasts for 2019. Sit back and enjoy new science podcasts updated daily from your favorite science news services and scientists.
Now Playing: TED Radio Hour

Rethinking Anger
Anger is universal and complex: it can be quiet, festering, justified, vengeful, and destructive. This hour, TED speakers explore the many sides of anger, why we need it, and who's allowed to feel it. Guests include psychologists Ryan Martin and Russell Kolts, writer Soraya Chemaly, former talk radio host Lisa Fritsch, and business professor Dan Moshavi.
Now Playing: Science for the People

#538 Nobels and Astrophysics
This week we start with this year's physics Nobel Prize awarded to Jim Peebles, Michel Mayor, and Didier Queloz and finish with a discussion of the Nobel Prizes as a way to award and highlight important science. Are they still relevant? When science breakthroughs are built on the backs of hundreds -- and sometimes thousands -- of people's hard work, how do you pick just three to highlight? Join host Rachelle Saunders and astrophysicist, author, and science communicator Ethan Siegel for their chat about astrophysics and Nobel Prizes.