Interocean Differences in Size and Nutrition of Coral Reef Sponge Populations

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Science  26 Jun 1987:
Vol. 236, Issue 4809, pp. 1654-1657
DOI: 10.1126/science.236.4809.1654


Sponges consume an order of magnitude more organic matter on Caribbean coral reefs than on the Great Barrier Reef. This rate of consumption is attributed to Caribbean sponge biomass being five to six times greater than that on the Great Barrier Reef, on average, and to the absence in the Caribbean of phototrophic sponges, which are a feature of clean water regions of the Great Barrier Reef. The long temporal and spatial separation of the Atlantic and Pacific oceans has resulted in the evolution of dissimilar sponge faunas, with Caribbean sponges being heterotrophic, whereas many Great Barrier Reef sponges rely on nutritional input from photosynthetic symbionts.