Marine Biology

, Volume 146, Issue 1, pp 29–38 | Cite as

Evidence for morphology-induced sediment settlement prevention on the tubular sponge Haliclona urceolus

  • J. J. Bell
Research Article


Several mechanisms are known to assist the survival of sponges in highly sedimented environments. This study considers the potential of sponge morphology and the positioning of exhalant water jets (through the osculum) in the adaptation of Haliclona urceolus to highly sedimented habitats. This sponge is cylindrical with an apical osculum, which is common in sedimented subtidal habitats at Lough Hyne Marine Nature Reserve, Cork, Ireland. Fifteen sponges were collected, preserved (killed with the structure and morphology maintained) and then replaced in a high sediment environment next to a living specimen (at 24 m). After 5 days, the sediment settled on both living and preserved sponges was collected and dried. No sediment was collected from living sponges, while preserved specimens had considerable amounts of settled sediment on their surfaces. The amount of sediment collected on these preserved specimens was significantly linearly correlated with sponge dry weight, maximum diameter and oscula width (R2>0.70, P<0.001, df=14). Observations of flow direction (using coloured dye) through H. urceolus showed that water is drawn into the sponge on its underside and exits via a large vertically pointing osculum. Sponge morphologies (shape) have often been considered as a means of passive adaptation to a number of different environmental parameters with oscula position enabling entrained flow through the sponge in high flow conditions. However, this study shows how the combination of sponge morphology (tubular shape) and positioning of the osculum may enable H. urceolus to survive in highly sedimented environments. Similar mechanisms may also aid the survival of some deep-water sponge species with similar morphologies.


Sponge Incline Surface Sediment Settlement Unit Body Mass Sponge Morphology 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.



The author would like to express thanks to Claire Shaw for her assistance in data collection. I would also like to thank Declan O’Donnell of the Irish Heritage Council (Dúchas) for granting research permits for the fieldwork at Lough Hyne (permit numbers R10/2002 and R11/2002). I would also like to thank University College Cork for the use of laboratory facilities and boating equipment at Lough Hyne.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 2004

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Institute of Biological SciencesUniversity of Wales, AberystwythAberystwythUK

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