Culture, demography and biogeography of sponge science: From past conferences to strategic research?

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

6 Citations (Scopus)


Perceived changes in the culture of sponge science and sponge conferences served as motivation for an evaluation of the sponge science community and research, over time and at present. Observed changes included a decrease in proceedings publications on sponge fossils and freshwater sponges, sponges from temperate environments, review papers and data syntheses, frequency of aquarium studies, and number of species investigated per publication. Publications on recent sponges, hexactinellids, calcareans, marine, Indo-Pacific and warm-water sponges increased, as well as the number of authors per publication and the proportion of field studies. Studies at the level of specimens and ultrastructure were gradually replaced by molecular approaches, but studies at the community level remained stable. The five sub-disciplines morphology/taxonomy, phylogeny/evolution, physiology, ecology and faunistics also retained about equal proportions over time. Conference publications related to taxonomy, phylogeny and biodiversity prevailed, whereas those on management and conservation were rare, possibly because studies on sponge recovery, survival and mortality were also scarce. The community of sponge scientists has grown and become more diverse over time, presently representing 72 nations. The gender distribution evened out since the first sponge conference and presently favours women at early and men at late career stages. Although stated research interests are generally dominated by physiology and ecology, taxonomy and evolution are favoured after retirement. Sponge science has become more dynamic, but maybe also more competitive and less inclusive. We now face the dual challenge of safeguarding against the loss of some sub-disciplines, and fostering the collaborative, helpful culture characteristic of sponge science.

Original languageEnglish
Article numbere12416
JournalMarine Ecology
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 1 Apr 2017


Dive into the research topics of 'Culture, demography and biogeography of sponge science: From past conferences to strategic research?'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this