Photoacclimation supports environmental tolerance of a sponge to turbid low-light conditions
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- Biggerstaff, A., Smith, D.J., Jompa, J. et al. Coral Reefs (2015) 34: 1049. doi:10.1007/s00338-015-1340-9
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Changes to coral reefs are occurring worldwide, often resulting in declining environmental quality which can be in the form of higher sedimentation rates and increased turbidity. While environmental acclimation to turbid and low-light conditions has been extensively studied in corals, far less is known about other phototrophic reef invertebrates. The photosynthetic cyanobacteria containing sponge Lamellodysidea herbacea is one of the most abundant sponges in the Wakatobi Marine National Park (WMNP, Indonesia), and its abundance is greatest at highly disturbed, turbid sites. This study investigated photoacclimation of L. herbacea symbionts to turbid reef sites using in situ PAM fluorometry combined with shading and transplant experiments at environmental extremes of light availability for this species. We found in situ photoacclimation of L. herbacea to both shallow, clear, high-light environments and deep, turbid, low-light environments. Shading experiments provide some evidence that L. herbacea are dependent on nutrition from their photosymbionts as significant tissue loss was seen in shaded sponges. Symbionts within surviving shaded tissue showed evidence of photoacclimation. Lamellodysidea herbacea transplanted from high- to low-light conditions appeared to have photoacclimated within 5 d with no significant effect of the lowered light level on survival. This ability of L. herbacea to photoacclimate to rapid and extreme changes in light availability may be one of the factors contributing to their survival on more turbid reef sites in the WMNP. Our study highlights the ability of some sponge species to acclimate to changes in light levels as a result of increased turbidity.