Cave sponges can help save reefs

January 14th, 2009 - 2:54 pm ICT by ANI  

Washington, Jan 14 (ANI): In a new research, it has been demonstrated that cave sponges can help save reefs by discarding a large number of cells that in turn provide food for the organisms on the reef.

The research was led by Dutch scientist Jasper de Goeij, who investigated how caves in the coral reef ensure the reefs continued existence.

De Goeij investigated coral caves near Curacao and Indonesia.

Up until now, it had been assumed that cave sponges could only eat by filtering the non-dissolved particles from the seawater.

This research demonstrated, however, that the caves contain far more dissolved material than non-dissolved material.

Although sponges in these coral caves take up a lot of dissolved organic material, they do discard a lot of cells that in turn provide food for the organisms on the reef.

Cave sponges take up enormous quantities of dissolved organic material from seawater.

The question is whether they merely take up the material or whether they also process it.

De Goeij revealed that the sponges process forty percent of the material and take up sixty percent. This should lead to a doubling of the sponges biomass every two to three days.

However, cave sponges scarcely grow.

The coral caves are densely populated and so there is scarcely any space to grow. Instead of growing, the cave sponges rapidly rejuvenate their filtration cells and discard their old cells.

The algae and corals on the reef produce dissolved organic material. Before this material flows into the open ocean, sponges in the caves take it up.

The sponges rapidly filter enormous quantities of water and convert dissolved material into particles. These particles are in turn consumed by the algae and corals on the reef.

In this manner, the various inhabitants of the reef facilitate each others survival. (ANI)

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