R.W.M. van Soest
- Diversity and abundance of sponges in bathyal coral reefs of Rockall Bank, N.E. Atlantic, from boxcore samples.
- Marine Biology Research
- Pages (from-to)
- Number of pages
- Document type
- Faculty of Science (FNWI)
- Institute for Biodiversity and Ecosystem Dynamics (IBED)
Recent (2004) boxcoring on the SW Rockall Bank, west of Ireland (approx. 55°N 15°W, depths between 557 and 1407 m) yielded 95 species of sponges in 20 boxcore attempts. There are no published reports of Rockall Bank coral reef sponge fauna, but comparison with trawl and dredge efforts in neighbouring parts of the NE Atlantic (east of Rockall Trench, off the Scottish coasts) made in the late 19th and early 20th century leads to the conclusion that our boxcoring efforts yielded similar numbers of species as these more elaborate collecting programs. Numbers of specimens for all boxcore samples combined was 466, together occupying a total volume of approx. 3.38 l, based on length x width x height measurements of all individuals. These results indicate a generally low biomass of sponges contributing to the deep water coral reef fauna. Species composition in this bathyal habitat shows a high heterogeneity (Eveness J¿: 0.81¿0.97) and the majority of sponge individuals does not exceed 1 cm3 in volume. Nevertheless, high densities of a large hexactinellid species, Asconema aff. setubalense (up to 30 cm in height), were encountered locally. Sponge community analysis showed that there was no clear correlation between coral cover and sponge diversity, and only a weak correlation between coral cover and abundance and volume of sponges. This, combined with the overall very small size of the sponges, suggests that substratum is not a limiting factor for their occurrence.
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