Bleaching and recovery of a phototrophic bioeroding sponge
In the Wakatobi region of Indonesia, a prolonged period of elevated water temperature in 2016 caused extensive coral bleaching and mortality. Unusually, bleaching was also observed in the bioeroding sponge Cliona aff. viridis, with affected sponges expelling 99% of their Symbiodinium. Bleaching surveys of C. aff. viridis were conducted 6 weeks apart, coinciding with a 0.8 °C drop in water temperature. Over this period, bleaching prevalence dropped from 73.9% (± 9.9 SE) to 25.7% (± 5.8 SE), and bleaching severity dropped from 25.95% (± 4.5 SE) to 11.54% (± 1.9 SE) of sponge tissue. Over the same period, monitored bleached sponges showed an 81% drop in bleaching severity, but also a 13% reduction in overall sponge size. Our results show that while the clionaid–Symbiodinium relationship is susceptible to break down under thermal stress, rapid recovery can occur, although incurring some partial host mortality.
KeywordsBleaching Cliona Bioerosion Climate change
This study was funded by a Victoria University of Wellington doctoral scholarship awarded to Joseph Marlow, the PADI Foundation, and facilitated by Operation Wallacea who provided travel funds and access to research facilities on Hoga, Indonesia. We would like to thank Christine Schönberg and Lisa Woods for their respective advice on sponge taxonomy and statistical analysis. We are also grateful to the reviewers of this manuscript, whose input improved it greatly. Research was conducted under a permit (182/SIP/FRP/E5/Dit.KI/VI/2016) from the Indonesian Ministry of Research and Technology.
Compliance with ethical standards
Conflict of interest
On behalf of all authors, the corresponding author states that there is no conflict of interest.
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