[Coral-List] New paper on ecosystem function for sponges on Caribbean coral reefs

Michael Risk riskmj at mcmaster.ca
Mon May 20 20:54:06 EDT 2013

Good day.

I would not normally comment here-I am above my daily limit as is-but feel a few words might be in order, because your choice of catchy title chucks you into the midst of the top-down/bottom-up hassle that continues to dog us.

The paper itself is fine, as far as it goes. Sponges in cages, Conch Reef, different food/plankton availability-different growth rates. Chemical defenses implicated.

Much of this field of chemical defenses in sessile inverts was initiated by my old advisor, Jerry Bakus, and my old friend Gerardo Green (tragically, deceased at a young age). We should all be familiar with their work and, from that point of view, your results follow.

On the other hand. If one wishes to make broad generalisations, one needs to look at the broad picture. I looked in vain in your paper for reference to work by  Reiswig, Rose, Ward-Paige, Holmes, Edinger, Carreiro-Silva, McClanahan, Keine…(I could go on)…all of whom have found bottom-up control of sponges.

I am not familiar with the general sponge literature, and these references come from the bioerosion side of things-which most biologists seem to forget.

It should be apparent by now that the balance has shifted, and sponge erosion is now volumetrically more important to the carbonate balance of reefs than is coral calcification. The relationship with nutrients seems clear, as does the acceleration with OA. More nutrients, more bioerosion-more acid oceans, same story.

It just seems to me that a subtitle to your paper could easily have been "But the really IMPORTANT sponge processes continue to be bottom-up."


On 2013-05-20, at 11:52 AM, Pawlik, Joseph wrote:

> Greetings,
> For those who may be interested, we just recently had a new paper published that has important implications for understanding the ecology of sponges on Caribbean reefs:
> Pawlik, J.R., Loh, T.-L., McMurray, S.E., and Finelli, C.M.  2013.  Sponge communities on Caribbean coral reefs are structured by factors that are top-down, not bottom-up. PLoS One 8(5): e62573. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0062573.
> The paper is open access, and you can find a link to it at the PDF website below.
> Cheers!
> **************************************************************
> Joseph R. Pawlik, Professor
> UNCW Center for Marine Science
> 5600 Marvin K Moss Lane
> Wilmington, NC  28409   USA
> pawlikj at uncw.edu<mailto:pawlikj at uncw.edu>; Office:(910)962-2377; Cell:(910)232-3579
> Website: http://people.uncw.edu/pawlikj/index.html
> PDFs: http://people.uncw.edu/pawlikj/pubs2.html
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Michael Risk
riskmj at mcmaster.ca

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