AB - Vol. 23 No.1 - Feature article

A diver positions an accoustic Doppler velocimeter over a Caribbean giant barrel sponge (Xestospongia muta) to measure the velocity of seawater pumped by the sponge. (Plana Cays, 22°33'24.46" W73°37'33.30", depth = 24m) Photo: Steven McMurray

McMurray SE, Pawlik JR, Finelli CM

 

 

 

Trait-mediated ecosystem impacts: how morphology and size affect pumping rates of the Caribbean giant barrel sponge

 

 

Sponges are a dominant component of Caribbean coral reefs that mediate ecological and biogeochemical processes through active suspension feeding. McMurray et al. measured pumping rates of the largest Caribbean species, the giant barrel sponge Xestospongia muta, to quantify the relationship between sponge body size and filtration rate. Results suggest isometric scaling of pumping with body size, temporal stability of pumping, and a strong relationship between the distribution of biomass within the sponge body plan and exhalant velocity distributions. Based on these findings, populations of X. muta in the Florida Keys and Bahamas overturn the water column every 2.3 to 18.0 d; highlighting the critical role this species has in benthic–pelagic coupling on Caribbean coral reefs.

 

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