MEPS 304:67-75 (2005)  -  doi:10.3354/meps304067

Living in a potentially toxic environment: comparisons of endofauna in two congeneric sponges from the Great Barrier Reef

Greg A. Skilleter1,*, Bayden D. Russell1, Bernard M. Degnan2, Mary J. Garson3

1Marine & Estuarine Ecology Unit, School of Integrative Biology, 2School of Integrative Biology, and
3Department of Chemistry, University of Queensland, Brisbane, Queensland 4072, Australia

ABSTRACT: The abundance and community composition of the endofauna in 2 species of sponge, Haliclona sp. 1 and Haliclona sp. 2 (phylum Porifera: order Haplosclerida), were examined at different sites on the slope at Heron Island Reef, in the southern Great Barrier Reef, on 2 separate occasions. Both species of Haliclona occupy similar habitats on the reef slope and are often found living adjacent to each other, but the major groups of secondary metabolites and the gross external morphology in the 2 species of sponge are different. The 2 species of sponge supported significantly different endofaunal communities, with Haliclona sp. 2 supporting 3 to 4 times more individuals than Haliclona sp. 1. Fewer demersal zooplankton (copepods), nematodes and some peracarid crustaceans were found in Haliclona sp. 1 compared with Haliclona sp. 2. There were also differences in the numbers of spionid, nereidid and syllid polychaetes living in the 2 species of sponge. The only taxon that was more abundant in Haliclona sp. 1 than Haliclona sp. 2 was the spionid Polydorella prolifera, and this difference was only evident on 1 of the 2 occasions. The amount of free space (pores, channels, cavities) for a given weight of sponge was only 19% greater in Haliclona sp. 2 than in Haliclona sp. 1, suggesting other factors, such as the differences in the allelochemicals, may have a role in determining the numbers and types of animals living in these 2 species of sponge.

KEY WORDS: Endofauna · Sponges · Haliclona · Coral reefs · Great Barrier Reef

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