[Coral-List] New paper: Coral colonization by Cliona delitrix excavating sponge

Andia Chaves-Fonnegra andiachaves at gmail.com
Fri May 20 11:10:52 EDT 2011

Dear Coral-list:

The following new paper has been recently printed:

Chaves-Fonnegra, A. y S. Zea. 2011. Coral colonization by the encrusting
excavating Caribbean sponge *Cliona delitrix*. Marine Ecology 32: 162-173.

If you want a pdf, contact me (andiachaves at gmail.com) or Dr. Sven Zea (
szea at invemar.org.co)

Abstract follows:

The Caribbean sponge *Cliona delitrix *is among the strongest reef space

it is able to overpower entire coral heads by undermining coral polyps. It

has become abundant in reefs exposed to organic pollution, such as San

Island, Colombia, SW Caribbean. Forty-four sponge-colonized coral colonies

were followed-up for 13 months to establish the circumstances and the speed

at which this sponge advances laterally into live coral tissue and the coral

retreats. *Cliona delitrix* presence and abundance was recorded at seven

to interpret current reef space and coral species colonization trends. The

of *C. delitrix* on a coral colony was preceded by a band of dead coral a

millimeters to several centimeters wide. However, the sponge was directly

responsible for coral death only when live coral tissue was within about 2

distance; coral death became sponge advance-independent at greater

being indirectly dependent on other conditions that tend to accelerate its

retreat. *Cliona delitrix *advanced fastest into recently killed clean coral

however, sponge spread slowed down when these became colonized by algae.

The lateral advance of *C. delitrix* was slower than other *Cliona* spp.

excavating sponges, probably owing to the greater depth of its excavation

the substratum. *Cliona delitrix* prefers elevated portions of massive

apparently settling on recently dead areas. It currently inhabits 6–9% of

in reefs bordering San Andrés. It was found more frequently in *Siderastrea

siderea* (the most abundant local massive coral), which is apparently more

susceptible to tissue mortality than other corals. Current massive coral

caused by *C. delitrix* could initially change the relative proportions of

species and in the long-term favor foliose and branching corals.

Andia Chaves-Fonnegra
PhD. Candidate
NOVA Southeastern University
8000 North Ocean Drive
NSU Oceanographic Center
Dania Beach, Florida, 33004

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