Symbiosis, Photosymbionts, Porifera, Biodiversity, Moorea, Mutualism
Photosymbionts play an important role in the ecology and evolution of diverse host species within the marine environment. Although sponge-photosymbiont interactions have been well described from geographically disparate sites worldwide, our understanding of these interactions from shallow water systems within French Polynesia is limited. We surveyed diverse habitats around the north coast of Moorea, French Polynesia and screened sponges for the presence of photosymbionts. Overall sponge abundance and diversity were low, with <1% cover and only eight putative species identified by 28S barcoding from surveys at 21 sites. Of these eight species, seven were found predominately in shaded or semi-cryptic habitats under overhangs or within caverns. Lendenfeldia chondrodeswas the only species that supported a high abundance of photosymbionts and was also the only species found in exposed, illuminated habitats. Interestingly, L. chondrodes was found at three distinct sites, with a massive, fan-shaped growth form at two of the lagoon sites and a thin, encrusting growth form within a bay site. These two growth forms differed in their photosymbiont abundance, with massive individuals of L. chondrodes having higher photosymbiont abundance than encrusting individuals from the bay. We present evidence that some sponges from French Polynesia support abundant photosymbiont communities and provide initial support for the role of these communities in host ecology.
Christopher J. Freeman and Cole Easson. 2016. Sponge distribution and the presence of photosymbionts in Moorea, French Polynesia .PeerJ , (e1816) . https://nsuworks.nova.edu/occ_facarticles/921.