Studying interactions between excavating sponges and massive corals by the use of hybrid cores

James K H Fang, Robert A B Mason, Christine Schonberg, Ove Hoegh-Guldberg, Sophie Dove

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

6 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

Excavating sponges often compete with reef-building corals. To study sponge–coral interactions, we devised a design of hybrid cores that allows sponges and corals to be arranged side by side with similar size and shape, mimicking the situation of neighbouring organisms. Compared to earlier methods that attached sponge cores onto coral surfaces, hybrid cores provide an opportunity to study organism interactions under conditions more equal to the interacting partners. The use of hybrid cores was demonstrated for the excavating sponge Cliona orientalis and the massive coral Porites, which commonly interact on the Great Barrier Reef. Cliona orientalis and massive Porites were cut into half-moon shaped explants and combined as hybrid cores under replicate conditions. After 90 days in an aquarium setting, positive growth of Cl. orientalis along with net bioerosion were observed in sponge control cores that combined Cl. orientalis with blank substrate. However, when Cl. orientalis and massive Porites were in contact in interaction cores, the sponge displayed negative growth and undetectable bioerosion, and was slightly overgrown by the coral. Cliona orientalis may have developed tissue extension beneath the living coral tissue, but growth and net calcification rates of massive Porites were apparently not affected by Cl. orientalis when comparing the interaction cores to coral control cores that combined massive Porites with blank substrate. Overall, the present work demonstrated that hybrid cores can be used to generate conditions suitable for studying sponge–coral interactions in the laboratory, which can also be applied in the field.

Original languageEnglish
Article numbere12393
JournalMarine Ecology
Volume38
Issue number1
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 1 Feb 2017

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Porifera
sponge
corals
coral
bioerosion
substrate
calcification
organisms
Great Barrier Reef
barrier reef
aquarium
aquariums
Moon
reefs
explants
reef

Cite this

Fang, James K H ; Mason, Robert A B ; Schonberg, Christine ; Hoegh-Guldberg, Ove ; Dove, Sophie. / Studying interactions between excavating sponges and massive corals by the use of hybrid cores. In: Marine Ecology. 2017 ; Vol. 38, No. 1.
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Studying interactions between excavating sponges and massive corals by the use of hybrid cores. / Fang, James K H; Mason, Robert A B; Schonberg, Christine; Hoegh-Guldberg, Ove; Dove, Sophie.

In: Marine Ecology, Vol. 38, No. 1, e12393, 01.02.2017.

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

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T1 - Studying interactions between excavating sponges and massive corals by the use of hybrid cores

AU - Fang, James K H

AU - Mason, Robert A B

AU - Schonberg, Christine

AU - Hoegh-Guldberg, Ove

AU - Dove, Sophie

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AB - Excavating sponges often compete with reef-building corals. To study sponge–coral interactions, we devised a design of hybrid cores that allows sponges and corals to be arranged side by side with similar size and shape, mimicking the situation of neighbouring organisms. Compared to earlier methods that attached sponge cores onto coral surfaces, hybrid cores provide an opportunity to study organism interactions under conditions more equal to the interacting partners. The use of hybrid cores was demonstrated for the excavating sponge Cliona orientalis and the massive coral Porites, which commonly interact on the Great Barrier Reef. Cliona orientalis and massive Porites were cut into half-moon shaped explants and combined as hybrid cores under replicate conditions. After 90 days in an aquarium setting, positive growth of Cl. orientalis along with net bioerosion were observed in sponge control cores that combined Cl. orientalis with blank substrate. However, when Cl. orientalis and massive Porites were in contact in interaction cores, the sponge displayed negative growth and undetectable bioerosion, and was slightly overgrown by the coral. Cliona orientalis may have developed tissue extension beneath the living coral tissue, but growth and net calcification rates of massive Porites were apparently not affected by Cl. orientalis when comparing the interaction cores to coral control cores that combined massive Porites with blank substrate. Overall, the present work demonstrated that hybrid cores can be used to generate conditions suitable for studying sponge–coral interactions in the laboratory, which can also be applied in the field.

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