Effects of combined dredging-related stressors on sponges: A laboratory approach using realistic scenarios

Mari Carmen Pineda, Brian Strehlow, Jasmine Kamp, Alan Duckworth, Ross Jones, Nicole S. Webster

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17 Citations (Scopus)


Dredging can cause increased suspended sediment concentrations (SSCs), light attenuation and sedimentation in marine communities. In order to determine the combined effects of dredging-related pressures on adult sponges, three species spanning different nutritional modes and morphologies were exposed to 5 treatment levels representing realistic dredging scenarios. Most sponges survived under low to moderate turbidity scenarios (SSCs of ≤ 33 mg L-1, and a daily light integral of ≥0.5 mol photons m-2 d-1) for up to 28 d. However, under the highest turbidity scenario (76 mg L-1, 0.1 mol photons m-2 d-1) there was 20% and 90% mortality of the phototrophic sponges Cliona orientalis and Carteriospongia foliascens respectively, and tissue regression in the heterotrophic Ianthella basta. All three sponge species exhibited mechanisms to effectively tolerate dredging-related pressures in the short term (e.g. oscula closure, mucus production and tissue regression), although reduced lipids and deterioration of sponge health suggest that longer term exposure to similar conditions is likely to result in higher mortality. These results suggest that the combination of high SSCs and low light availability can accelerate mortality, increasing the probability of biological effects, although there is considerable interspecies variability in how adult sponges respond to dredging pressures.

Original languageEnglish
Article number5155
JournalScientific Reports
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 1 Dec 2017


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