MEPS 527:275-279 (2015)  -  DOI: https://doi.org/10.3354/meps11307

COMMENT
Trophic ecology of sponges from shallow to mesophotic depths (3 to 150 m): Comment on Pawlik et al. (2015)

Marc Slattery1,*, Michael P. Lesser2

1Department of BioMolecular Sciences, University of Mississippi, Oxford, Mississippi 38677, USA
2School of Marine Science and Ocean Engineering, University of New Hampshire, Durham, New Hampshire 03824, USA
*Corresponding author.

ABSTRACT: Pawlik et al. (2015; Mar Ecol Prog Ser 519:265-283) proposed 4 hypotheses regarding the influence of food limitation on growth and distribution of Caribbean sponges: (1) increasing sponge cover as particulate organic carbon increases with depth, (2) replacement of high microbial abundance sponges with low microbial abundance sponges at depth, (3) dominance of sponges with photosymbionts above the photosynthetic compensation point, and (4) sponge morphologies that reflect adaptations to feeding. Pawlik et al. (2015) concluded that there is no evidence of food limitation (i.e. bottom-up control), and that predation is the primary process that determines the growth, biomass and biodiversity of sponges on Caribbean coral reefs. Here, we address the conclusions of Pawlik et al. (2015) in the context of the observational, correlational, and manipulative studies they utilized in their analysis. We argue that both top-down (predation pressure) and bottom-up (food limitation) processes influence the distribution of sponges on coral reefs, that these factors vary in time and space, and that only when multifactorial manipulative experiments are undertaken will the magnitude of the roles of predation and food limitation be understood.


KEY WORDS: Bottom-up control · Top-down control · Dissolved organic carbon · DOC · Particulate organic carbon · POC · Experimental design


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Cite this article as: Slattery M, Lesser MP (2015) Trophic ecology of sponges from shallow to mesophotic depths (3 to 150 m): Comment on Pawlik et al. (2015). Mar Ecol Prog Ser 527:275-279. https://doi.org/10.3354/meps11307

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