The Role of Bioeroding Sponges in the Benthic Community Clionaid Sponges as Bioindicators of Eutrophication

Defense Date


Document Type


Degree Name

M.S. Coastal Zone Management

First Advisor

Donald McCorquodale

Second Advisor

Charles Messing


Bioerosion describes the removal of hard ocean substrates by living organisms via several mechanisms, which include boring, excavating, drilling, rasping and scraping. Bioerosion can occur internally and externally. External bioeroders include mollusks, crustaceans, echinoids and fish, whereas internal bioeroders include algae, fungi, bacteria (microborers), sponges (Clionaidae), mytilid bivalves (Lithophaga), sipunculans (Aspidosiphon), barnacles (Lithotrya) and polychaetes (Eunicidae) (MacGeachy and Stearn 1976, Hutchings and Bamber 1985, Risk et al. 1995). Demosponges in the genus Cliona are the most abundant and destructive component of the bioeroding infauna in many parts of the tropics (Florida: Hudson 1977; Caribbean: Hein and Risk 1975, MacGeachy and Steam 1976, Scoffin et al. 1980, Steam and Scoffin 1977; Great Barrier Reef: Risk and Sammarco 1982, Risk et al. 1995; India: Thomas 1988). Elevated clionaid abundance has been correlated with increased eutrophication levels; thus, clionaid sponge population densities can reflect levels of coastal pollution (Holmes 2000, Holmes et al. 2000, Rose and Risk 1985, Ward-Paige et al. 2005).

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