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Marine Ecology Progress Series

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MEPS 462:67-77 (2012)  -  DOI: https://doi.org/10.3354/meps09853

Effects of water temperature and pH on growth and metabolite biosynthesis of coral reef sponges

Alan R. Duckworth1,5,*, Lyndon West2, Tifanie Vansach2, Amber Stubler3, Marah Hardt4

1Blue Ocean Institute, Stony Brook University, New York 11794, USA
2Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry, Florida Atlantic University, Florida 33431, USA
3School of Marine and Atmospheric Sciences, Stony Brook University, New York 11794, USA
4OceanInk, Kamuela, Hawaii 96743, USA
5Present address: Australian Institute of Marine Science, Townsville, Queensland 4810, Australia

ABSTRACT: Warmer, more acidic water resulting from increased emissions of greenhouse gases will impact coral reef organisms, but the effects remain unknown for many dominant groups such as sponges. To test for possible effects, adult sponges of 6 common Caribbean coral reef species—Aiolochroia crassa, Aplysina cauliformis, Aplysina fistularis, Ectyoplasia ferox, Iotrochota birotulata and Smenospongia conulosa—were grown for 24 d in seawater ranging from values experienced at present-day summer-maxima (temperature = 28°C; pH = 8.1) to those predicted for the year 2100 (temperature = 31°C; pH = 7.8). For each species, growth and survival were similar among temperature and pH levels. Sponge attachment rates, which are important for reef consolidation, were similar between pH values for all species, and highest at 31°C for E. ferox, I. birotulata and A. cauliformis. Secondary metabolites, responsible for deterring predation and fouling, were examined for A. crassa, A. cauliformis, E. ferox and I. birotulata, with 1 to 3 major metabolites quantified from each species. Final metabolite concentrations varied significantly among treatments only for zooanemonin from E. ferox and N-tele-methylhistamine from I. birotulata, but these concentrations were similar to those found in wild conspecifics. Considering adult sponges only, these findings suggest that the ecological roles and physiological processes of the 6 coral reef species will be little affected by the mean values of water temperature and pH predicted for the end of the century.


KEY WORDS: Sponges · Water temperature · pH · Climate change · Growth · Metabolite biosynthesis


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Cite this article as: Duckworth AR, West L, Vansach T, Stubler A, Hardt M (2012) Effects of water temperature and pH on growth and metabolite biosynthesis of coral reef sponges. Mar Ecol Prog Ser 462:67-77. https://doi.org/10.3354/meps09853

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