HCNSO Student Theses and Dissertations

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Defense Date


Document Type

Thesis - NSU Access Only

Degree Name

M.S. Marine Biology


Oceanographic Center

First Advisor

David S. Gilliam

Second Advisor

Vladimir N. Kosmynin

Third Advisor

Charles G. Messing


The giant barrel sponge, Xestospongia muta is a prominent component in southeast Florida reef communities and is often injured from anthropogenic or natural disturbances. The resulting complete or partial shearing of X. muta barrels frequently leads to mortality of loose fragments that do not typically reattach. This study examines the degree to which sponge size and injury severity affects recovery and growth, and explores artificial reattachment success and growth of fragments. In June 2008, 65 sponges were subjected to injury treatments of approximately 50% or 90% barrel removal. A new, simple method was developed to secure these removed barrels (fragments) to the substrate. For 15 months, all donor, fragment and control sponges were monitored for survival, recovery and growth (change in height), and fragments were additionally monitored for reattachment. All injured sponges showed signs of recovery within 1 month. Within 7 months the reattachment method had already proved successful with more than 80% of all fragments becoming attached; final reattachment success after 15 months was 87%. Survival remained high for donors (97%), fragments (94%) and controls (97%). Size class and injury treatment did not significantly affect survival for donors. However, larger fragments had significantly lower survival and reduced reattachment success. Fragment growth rates were significantly lower than donor and control sponges. All sponges showed significant increase in height from post-cutting to the final monitoring. No injured donors reached pre-cut heights, however those from the smaller size class are projected to reach pre-injury heights faster than the larger size class.

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