A spongy habitat

By Danielle Ludeman

The world is full of organisms, living on organisms, that are living on other organisms.  You just have to take a moment to think about the complexity of life that can occur to start to appreciate all of the life around us.  Take a tree in your front yard – at first glance you may just see a tree, but when you start to look closer you notice the bird nest that will be home to baby chicks in the spring, and the squirrel that runs up and down the branches.  Then you notice all the different types of moss, lichen, and mushrooms that are growing on the tree.  And upon closer inspection you realize that this creates even more space for a variety of spiders and insects to thrive.  And we can keep going on and on to include all of the life that we need a microscope to see. And this is just on a single tree!

This summer, while doing some field studies at Bamfield, I began to appreciate all of the life that can be found on a single sponge.  Now it is well known that sponges can be very important habitat for many organisms, with some species being obligate commensals of sponges, meaning they can ONLY live on a sponge to survive.  But when I started to look closer at some of the sponges in my studies, I began to realize just how many other organisms call a sponge its home!  One species of sponge in particular – Suberites sp.  that I collected off of Brady’s beach – seemed to have a surprise guest visiting every time I looked at it!  I managed to photograph a few of these, and thought I would share these with you in the slideshow below!

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Advertisements

2 thoughts on “A spongy habitat

  1. Wow, great photos! And how neat–this just goes to show how tricky it can be to estimate percent cover…would a rock be covered with sponge? Or the barnacle atop the sponge? Also, out of curiosity, did you notice any scrape marks on the sponge with the nudibranch on it? I’ve seen radula tracks in Acarnus erithacus, another sponge, before.

    • You know, I never did see any scrape marks on the sponge, but then again I wasn’t really looking for them. I also pulled the nudibranch off right after I snapped the picture – I didn’t want a nudi eating my experiment!

      That is a very good point you bring up about percent cover. If you account for all of the layers of life, you may end up with more than ‘100 %’ cover!

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s