[Coral-List] Sponge roles and dynamics at ICRS 2020, Abstract Call

Janie Wulff wulff at bio.fsu.edu
Tue Jul 9 18:10:48 UTC 2019

We are pleased to announce a session focused on sponges at the next 
International Coral Reef Symposium, June 2020.The title of the session 
is /“Sponges on coral reefs: how can we reconcile contradictory reports 
on controls, population and community dynamics, and functional roles?“/ 
(included in Theme #11: Resilience, phase shifts, and novel 
ecosystems”). Abstracts for talks and posters are open from 1 July to 1 
September, and the ICRS website for abstract submission is 
www.icrs2020.de <http://www.icrs2020.de>.

Session description: “Controversy over sponge functional roles and how 
sponge populations are controlled on coral reefs has become polarized 
and, given the many key roles played by sponges, it seems important to 
see how we can reconcile contrasting views of sponge influences and 
dynamics. Contrasting reports that: a) sponges are overwhelming corals 
and reefs vs. suffering mass mortalities; b) sponges are controlled by 
spongivores vs. by picoplankton and nutrient availability; and c) sponge 
effects on corals are damaging vs. enhancing, result in opposing 
conclusions that impede clear predictions of future states. Potentially 
profound reciprocal influences of sponges and the water column on each 
other, as well as of sponges and corals on each other, impel increased 
attention to focused studies of sponge ecology. Sponges must also be 
added to monitoring, conservation, restoration, and management plans, 
but the most useful and efficient ways to do this require thoughtful 
conversation, as standard coral reef techniques must be modified to take 
into account how sponges differ from corals, i.e., an order of magnitude 
greater species diversity, living tissue throughout their 3-dimensional 
bodies, disintegrating upon death rather than leaving behind a skeleton, 
capable of inhabiting cryptic spaces where evaluation is difficult, and 
playing a greater variety of ecosystem functional roles. We hope to 
facilitate movement from polarized debate to discussion of circumstances 
under which contrasting results are obtained. Are contrasting reports 
due to focus on different species? generalization from too few or 
unusual species?different metrics and techniques used? field sites 
varying in key aspects? temporal and spatial scales dissimilar?We will 
provide a forum for presentation and discussion of new data to address 
the balance between bottom-up vs. top-down controls on sponges, positive 
vs. negative functional roles of sponges, and increasing vs. decreasing 
populations of sponges.”

Please feel free to write to us with any questions you may have.We look 
forward to seeing you there!

Best wishes,

Janie Wulff

Christine Schoenberg

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