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Title: Depth-dependent trophic strategies of Caribbean sponges on mesophotic coral reefs
Mesophotic coral reef ecosystems (MCEs) are characterized by gradients in irradiance, temperature and trophic resources. As depth increases on Caribbean mesophotic reefs, particulate organic matter increases while dissolved organic matter decreases, and the increase in particulate organic matter is directly related to the increase in sponge abundances and growth rates on MCEs. To further understand the trophic ecology of sponges, changes in microbiome composition and function, stable isotopic composition and proximate biochemical composition of 4 Caribbean reef sponges ( Amphimedon compressa , Agelas tubulata , Plakortis angulospiculatus and Xestospongia muta) were quantified along a shallow to mesophotic depth gradient on Grand Cayman Island. Increases in δ 15 N for all sponges were observed as depth increased, indicating an increasing reliance on heterotrophic food resources. Species-specific changes in symbiotic microbial community composition were also observed as depth increased, and the predicted functional genes associated with nitrogen and carbon cycling showed species-specific changes between depths. Regardless of species-specific changes in microbiome community structure or function, or whether sponges were classified as high microbial or low microbial abundance, sponges increased their consumption of particulate organic matter with increasing depth into the lower mesophotic zone.  more » « less
Award ID(s):
Author(s) / Creator(s):
; ; ; ;
Date Published:
Journal Name:
Marine Ecology Progress Series
Page Range / eLocation ID:
125 to 140
Medium: X
Sponsoring Org:
National Science Foundation
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