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Marine Ecology Progress Series

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MEPS 368:137-143 (2008)  -  DOI:

Patterns of sponge recruitment and growth on a shipwreck corroborate chemical defense resource trade-off

Joseph R. Pawlik1,*, Timothy P. Henkel1, Steven E. McMurray1, Susanna López-Legentil1, Tse-Lynn Loh1, Sven Rohde2

1Department of Biology and Marine Biology, Center for Marine Science, 5600 Marvin K Moss Lane, University of North Carolina Wilmington, North Carolina 28409, USA
2Leibniz-Institut für Meereswissenschaften, Universtät Kiel, Duesternbrooker Weg 20, 24105 Kiel, Germany

ABSTRACT: Fundamental theories of resource allocation for terrestrial plants predict that species investing in chemical defenses should be slow growing or less fecund, while undefended species should mitigate consumer effects by diverting energy to growth and reproduction, thereby also enhancing their ability to colonize open space. As for some plant communities, sponges on Caribbean coral reefs include chemically defended species and undefended species that tolerate consumer damage. We surveyed the sponge community on the 155 m long wreck of the USS ‘Spiegel Grove’ (~1583 m2 deck surface), which was intentionally sunk 4 yr previously in 2002 as an artificial reef off Key Largo, Florida, USA, to determine the relative abundance of undefended and defended species on previously uncolonized habitat compared to an adjacent reef at a similar depth and with similar topography. As predicted by theory, chemically undefended sponge species were significantly more abundant (96.0%) and larger on the shipwreck than on adjacent coral reef (15.2%; G-test, p < 0.0001). On a subsequent survey 18 mo later, the first recruits of 6 chemically defended sponge species were discovered, suggesting that the sponge community on the wreck is in transition toward that occurring on adjacent reefs. Although more definitive replicated experiments remain to be performed, these results corroborate the resource trade-off hypothesis as applied to the evolution of chemical defenses among sponge species on Caribbean reefs.

KEY WORDS: Predation · Optimal defense · Tolerance · Coral reef

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Cite this article as: Pawlik JR, Henkel TP, McMurray SE, López-Legentil S, Loh TL, Rohde S (2008) Patterns of sponge recruitment and growth on a shipwreck corroborate chemical defense resource trade-off. Mar Ecol Prog Ser 368:137-143.

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