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Coral Reefs

, Volume 22, Issue 1, pp 11–16 | Cite as

Distribution of a nematocyst-bearing sponge in relation to potential coral donors

  •  B. Russell
  •  B. Degnan
  •  M. Garson
  •  G. Skilleter
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Abstract.

Haliclona sp. 628 (Demospongiae, Haplosclerida, Chalinidae), a sponge found on the reef slope below 5 m depth on the Great Barrier Reef, has two unusual characteristics. It contains a symbiotic dinoflagellate, Symbiodinium sp., similar in structure to the dinoflagellate found within Acropora nobilis (S. microadriaticum), and it contains coral nematocysts randomly distributed between the ectosome and endosome and usually undischarged in intact sponge tissue. Given the unusual occurrence of nematocysts in Haliclona sp. 628, the focus of this study was to determine the distribution of this species of sponge on the reef slope at Heron Island Reef in relation to the distribution of potential coral donors. A combination of line and belt transects was used to estimate the abundance of Haliclona sp. 628 and a co-occurring congener, Haliclona sp. 1031, which does not contain nematocysts, at three widely separated sites on the reef slope at Heron Island Reef. The abundance of different types of substratum (sand, sand-covered coral rubble, dead A. nobilis, live A. nobilis, other live coral, and other dead coral) along the transects and the substratum to which each sponge colony was attached were also recorded. Despite the predominance of live A. nobilis and sand-covered rubble at all sites, between 30 and 55% of Haliclona sp. 628 colonies were attached to dead A. nobilis which comprised less than 8% of the available substratum along any transect. In contrast, Haliclona sp. 1031 was found significantly more frequently on other dead corals and less frequently on live A. nobilis than would be expected based on the availability of the different substrata in the sites. Potential explanations to account for the distribution of Haliclona sp. 628 in relation to potential coral donors are discussed.

Haliclona Sponges Distribution Nematocysts Heron Reef 

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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 2003

Authors and Affiliations

  •  B. Russell
    • 1
  •  B. Degnan
    • 1
  •  M. Garson
    • 2
  •  G. Skilleter
    • 3
  1. 1.Department of Zoology and Entomology, University of Queensland, Brisbane, Queensland 4072, Australia
  2. 2.Department of Chemistry, University of Queensland, Brisbane, Queensland 4072, Australia
  3. 3.Marine and Estuarine Ecology Unit, Department of Zoology and Entomology, University of Queensland, Brisbane, Queensland 4072, Australia

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