The rise of sponges in Anthropocene reef ecosystems

phys.org | 10/26/2018 | Staff
newusr01 (Posted by) Level 3
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Coral reefs across the world have been altered dramatically in recent decades. Human activities have contributed to mass coral die-offs in tropical oceans.

The degradation of reef-building corals is expected to worsen under current climate trajectories, but our work shows that most reef sponges are resilient enough to tolerate climate conditions projected for 2100.

Research - Sponges - Ecosystems

In our latest research, we examine how future reefs that include more sponges might function compared to the current coral‐dominated ecosystems.

On the Great Barrier Reef, the amount of living coral has declined over the past 30 years. Recurrent bleaching events are having profound impacts on the ecology of reef systems and the resources reefs can provide for humans.

Marine - Sponges - World - Oceans - Organisms

Marine sponges are found across the world's oceans. They are among the oldest known multicellular organisms and first appeared in the fossil record about 580 million years ago.

Over this long evolutionary history, sponges experienced a range of environmental conditions and have shown remarkable persistence to survive the end-Triassic mass extinction, some 200 million years ago. While sponges are found in shallow and deep-water environments from the tropics to the poles, they are particularly important on coral reefs. There, the filter feeders form a critical link between the seafloor and the overlying body of seawater.

Sponges - Quantities - Water - Bacteria - Plankton

Sponges pump large quantities of water and remove bacteria, plankton and dissolved food. They also maintain symbiotic partnerships with diverse communities of microorganisms that can provide them with nutrients and secondary metabolites that bolster their defence against predators and infection.

The latest report from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change suggests very different outcomes for coral reefs at a 1.5°C or 2.0°C increase in seawater temperature. Even if we manage to keep ocean warming to 1.5°C, corals will nevertheless be seriously impacted.

Sponge - Species - Corals - Impacts - Climate

However, we have shown that many sponge species are more tolerant than corals of the impacts of climate...
(Excerpt) Read more at: phys.org
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