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Reassessing the spatial relationship between sponges and macroalgae in sublittoral rocky bottoms: a descriptive approach
Preciado, I.; Maldonado, M. (2005). Reassessing the spatial relationship between sponges and macroalgae in sublittoral rocky bottoms: a descriptive approach. Helgol. Mar. Res. 59(2): 141-150
In: Helgoland Marine Research. Springer: Berlin; Heidelberg. ISSN 1438-387X, more
Peer reviewed article  

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    Algae; Rocky shores; Spatial variations; Sponges; Marine

Authors  Top 
  • Preciado, I.
  • Maldonado, M.

    Because sublittoral sponges of temperate areas are usually more abundant at sites with low algal abundance, there is the widespread notion that macroalgae out-compete and displace sponges to habitats less suitable for algal proliferation. In this study, based on 292 sampling quadrats, we collected a total of 87 demosponge species and examined the level at which sponge distribution pairs with a variety of alga-dominated and animal-dominated habitats occurring in three zones located across a marked in-bay/out-bay environmental gradient. We found significant differences in sponge biomass, richness and diversity between the 18 habitats considered in the three zones, with abundance, richness and diversity being significantly higher in caves, vertical surfaces and overhangs out of the bay than in the remaining habitats. The cluster analysis and the unconstrained ordination consistently reflected the in-bay/out-bay environmental gradient. These analyses also revealed that the taxonomic distribution of sponge abundance is independent of the algal occurrence in the habitat, being more related to between-zone differences than to between-habitat differences. This trend was corroborated when the role of depth, algal abundance and substratum inclination in explaining total sponge abundance and diversity was examined by canonical correspondence analysis, regression analysis and mean comparisons. These analyses pointed to substratum inclination, rather than to algal abundance, as the factor explaining most variation in distribution of sponge abundance. These results, when discussed in the context provided by the outcome of other studies concerned with the spatial distribution of the sessile benthos in rocky temperate communities, strongly suggest a need to re-examine the idea that spatial distribution of sublittoral sponges largely results from competition with macroalgae.

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