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Encrusting Sponges

Encrusting Sponges

Encrusting sponges grow on top of the coral. This can lead to decreased growth and sruvival rates for the encrusted corals.


Biological Harvest is the collection of living things from the ecosystem for recreation, consumption, or sale of marine products. Boring sponges bore into the calcium carbonate skeleton of coral. Complex habitat and resources reflects the complex architecture of sessile, plant-like organisms, such as octocoral and sponges, which provides shelter and protection for small fish and other invertebrates from predators. Contact Uses, such as biological additions, physical damage, and biological harvesting, are activities in which humans create pressures through direct contact with the ecosystem. Coral is a colonial marine animal consisting of polyps. Cultural services are the nonmaterial benefits people obtain from ecosystems through spiritual enrichment, cognitive development, recreational opportunities, aesthetic experiences, sense of place, and educational and research opportunities. Discharge limitations are responses to regulate and control the discharge of pollutants and the use of chemicals. Discharges are the intentional or unintentional distribution of chemicals, debris, or other pollution, into the environment as a consequence of human activities. Ecosystem monitoring and restoration refers to responses to directly alter the condition of the reef ecosystem through restoration or remediation activities, setting  limits on degradation through biological criteria or water quality criteria, or improving  knowledge through monitoring, mapping, and scientific research. Ecosystem services are the benefits people obtain from ecosystems . Encrusting sponges grow on top of the coral. Nutrient and contaminant processing refers to an ecosystem's ability to process and cycle contaminants and nutrients through its system. Nutrients are essential elements needed by plants and animals for growth and primarily include nitrogen, phosphorous, and potassium, as well as minor nutrients such as calcium, magnesium, or zinc. The Reef Ecosystem includes a suite of abiotic variables that form the physical and chemical environment. Pressures are human activities that create stress on the environment. Provisioning services are the products or ecosystem goods obtained from ecosystems, including seafood, genetic and biochemical resources, pharmaceuticals, ornamental resources, and water resources. The state of the Reef Ecosystem is the condition, in terms of quantity and quality, of the abiotic and biotic components including physical, chemical, and biological variables. Reef Habitat is the abundance, distribution, and condition of the benthic components of the reef ecosystem. Reef Inhabitants are all of the motile components of the reef ecosystem, including fish, invertebrates, marine reptiles and mammals, and are quantified by their  abundance, distribution, and condition. Reef Life is the abundance, distribution, and condition of the biological components of the coral reef ecosystem. Resource use management pertains to responses to regulate or limit contact activities that may directly impact coastal species through harvesting or physical damage. Responses are actions taken by groups or individuals in society and government to prevent, compensate, ameliorate or adapt to changes in Ecosystem Services or their perceived value. Sediment includes dirt, sand, silt, clay, and small rocks that form soil on land or soft substrate in marine habitats, and may be transported by water, wind, or human activities. Socio-Economic Drivers include the sectors that fulfill human needs for Food & Raw Materials, Water, Shelter, Health, Culture, and Security, and the Infrastructure that supports the sectors. Sponges are sessile colonial animals with soft porous bodies supported by a fibrous skeletal framework. Supporting services are ecological processes that indirectly benefit humans by maintaining a functional ecosystem for the production of other ecosystem goods and services. Toxics are chemical pollutants that are poisonous, carcinogenic, or otherwise directly harmful to humans, plants, or animals. Tube, barrel, and finger sponges have vertical morphologies.

CMap Description

Sponges provide complex habitat and resources for fish and other invertebrates. Boring sponges may erode coral skeletons. Encrusting sponges may damage coral by growing over their surface, but can also help bind the reef, facilitate recruitment of crustose coralline algae, and contribute to reef structural strength. Nutrient and contaminant processing by sponges and wetlands can improve water quality and reduces human exposure to contaminants. Sponges may be harvested for household uses, aquariums, or ornamental resources. Sponges also provide aesthetic value, contributing to recreational opportunities for snorkelers and scuba divers. Pollution and harvesting can affect survival and growth of sponges. Monitoring and scientific research can be used to track the condition and abundance of sponges, and to understand interactions with other species. Resource use management may be used to protect endangered species or limit harvesting.


Citation Year Study Location Study Type Database Topics
Avila, E; Carballo, JL; Vega, C; Camacho, L; Barron-Alvarez, JJ; Padilla-Verdin, C; Yanez-Chavez, B. 2011. Deposition of shallow water sponges in response to seasonal changes. Journal of Sea Research 66:172-180. 2011 South & Central America; US Pacific & Hawaii; Pacific Ocean; Mexico Encrusting Sponges; Sediment; Sponges
Hirose, E; Murakami, A. 2011. Microscopic Anatomy and Pigment Characterization of Coral-encrusting Black Sponge with Cyanobacterial Symbiont, Terpios hoshinota. Zoological Science 28:199-205. 2011 Cyanobacteria; Encrusting Sponges; Microorganisms; Pathogens; Skeletal Coral; Sponges; Stony Coral
Ko, J; Morinaka, BI; Molinski, TF. 2011. Faulknerynes A-C from a Bahamian Sponge Diplastrella sp.: Stereoassignment by Critical Application of Two Exciton Coupled CD Methods. Journal of Organic Chemistry 76:894-901. 2011 Bahamas Encrusting Sponges; Sponges
Tang, SL; Hong, MJ; Liao, MH; Jane, WN; Chiang, PW; Chen, CB; Chen, CA. 2011. Bacteria associated with an encrusting sponge (Terpios hoshinota) and the corals partially covered by the sponge. Environmental Microbiology 13:1179-1191. 2011 Cyanobacteria; Encrusting Sponges; Hydrocoral; Pathogens; Sponges; Stony Coral
van Duyl, FC; Moodley, L; Nieuwland, G; van Ijzerloo, L; van Soest, RWM; Houtekamer, M; Meesters, EH; Middelburg, JJ. 2011. Coral cavity sponges depend on reef-derived food resources: stable isotope and fatty acid constraints. Marine Biology 158:1653-1666. 2011 South & Central America; Antilles; Caribbean Model Algae; Coralline Algae; Encrusting Sponges; Nutrients; Plankton; Sponges; Substrate; Zooxanthellae
Van Rein, H; Brown, CJ; Schoeman, DS; Quinn, R; Breen, J. 2011. Fixed-station monitoring of a harbour wall community: the utility of low-cost photomosaics and scuba on hard-substrata. Aquatic Conservation: Marine and Freshwater Ecosystems 21:690-703. 2011 US Pacific & Hawaii; Cuba Field Study & Monitoring Algae; Biological Monitoring, Mapping, & Scientific Research; Encrusting Sponges; Sponges
Wahab, MAA; de Nys, R; Whalan, S. 2011. Larval behaviour and settlement cues of a brooding coral reef sponge. Coral Reefs 30:451-460. 2011 Encrusting Sponges; Skeletal Coral; Sponges
Van Syoc, R. J. and W. A. Newman. 2010. Morphology and evolutionary ecology of a sponge-barnacle symbiosis: Four new genera of barnacles (Archaeobalanidae, Bryozobiinae). Journal of Experimental Marine Biology and Ecology 392:65-88. 2010 Encrusting Sponges; Sponges
Blanquer, A., M. J. Uriz, and J. Caujape-Castells. 2009. Small-scale spatial genetic structure in Scopalina lophyropoda, an encrusting sponge with philopatric larval dispersal and frequent fission and fusion events. Marine Ecology Progress Series 380:95-102. 2009 GIS & Maps Encrusting Sponges; Invertebrates; Sponges
De Goeij, J. M., A. De Kluijver, F. C. Van Duyl, J. Vacelet, R. H. Wijffels, A. F. P. M. De Goeij, J. P. M. Cleutjens, and B. Schutte. 2009. Cell kinetics of the marine sponge Halisarca caerulea reveal rapid cell turnover and shedding. Journal of Experimental Biology 212:3892-3900. 2009 Encrusting Sponges; Nutrients; Special Use Permitting; Sponges
Duris, Z., I. Horka, and D. T. Hoc. 2009. Periclimenaeus Nufu, A New Species Of Shrimp (Crustacea: Decapoda: Pontoniinae) From Vietnam. Raffles Bulletin of Zoology 57:453-464. 2009 China; Vietnam Encrusting Sponges; Lobster, Crab, & Shrimp; Skeletal Coral; Sponges
Enriquez, S., E. Avila, and J. L. Carballo. 2009. Phenotypic Plasticity Induced In Transplant Experiments In A Mutualistic Association Between The Red Alga Jania Adhaerens (Rhodophyta, Corallinales) And The Sponge Haliclona Caerulea (Porifera: Haplosclerida): Morphological Responses Of The Alga. Journal of Phycology 45:81-90. 2009 US Pacific & Hawaii Encrusting Sponges; Sponges
Ruzicka, R. and D. F. Gleason. 2009. Sponge community structure and anti-predator defenses on temperate reefs of the South Atlantic Bight. Journal of Experimental Marine Biology and Ecology 380:36-46. 2009 US East Coast (NC, SC, GA) Encrusting Sponges; Fish; Sediment; Sponges
Soong, K., S. L. Yang, and C. A. Chen. 2009. A Novel Dispersal Mechanism of a Coral-Threatening Sponge, Terpios hoshinota (Suberitidae, Porifera). Zoological Studies 48:596-596. 2009 Encrusting Sponges; Sponges
De Goeij, J. M., H. Van Den Berg, M. M. Van Oostveen, E. H. G. Epping, and F. C. Van Duyl. 2008. Major bulk dissolved organic carbon (DOC) removal by encrusting coral reef cavity sponges. Marine Ecology Progress Series 357:139-151. 2008 South & Central America; Antilles; Cuba; Caribbean Encrusting Sponges; Microorganisms; Nutrients; Plankton; Sponges
De Goeij, J. M., L. Moodley, M. Houtekamer, N. M. Carballeira, and F. C. Van Duyl. 2008. Tracing 13C-enriched dissolved and particulate organic carbon in the bacteria-containing coral reef sponge Halisarca caerulea: Evidence for DOM feeding. Limnology and Oceanography 53:1376-1386. 2008 Cuba Complex Habitat & Resources; Encrusting Sponges; Microorganisms; Sponges; Substrate
Ferguson, A. M. and A. R. Davis. 2008. Heart of glass: Spicule armament and physical defense in temperate reef sponges. Marine Ecology Progress Series 372:77-86. 2008 Encrusting Sponges; Invertebrates; Sea Urchins; Sponges
Southwell, M. W., J. B. Weisz, C. S. Martens, and N. Lindquist. 2008. In situ fluxes of dissolved inorganic nitrogen from the sponge community on Conch Reef, Key Largo, Florida. Limnology and Oceanography 53:986-996. 2008 Florida; Cuba Encrusting Sponges; Nutrients; Sponges; Tube, Barrel, & Finger Sponges
Luter, H. M., A. R. Duckworth, and C. Syms. 2007. Cytotoxic and anti-microbial activity of the sponge Iotrochota sp. as a function of size and spatial competitors. Marine Biology Research 3:312-318. 2007 Australia Encrusting Sponges; Invertebrates; Sponges
Knott, N. A., A. J. Underwood, M. G. Chapman, and T. M. Glasby. 2006. Growth of the encrusting sponge Tedania anhelans (Lieberkuhn) on vertical and on horizontal surfaces of temperate subtidal reefs. Marine and Freshwater Research 57:95-104. 2006 Australia Encrusting Sponges; Invertebrates; Sponges
Micael, J., J. M. N. Azevedo, and A. C. Costa. 2006. Biological characterisation of a subtidal tunnel in São Miguel island (Azores). Biodiversity and Conservation 15:3675-3684. 2006 Encrusting Sponges; Marine Worms; Sponges
Schleyer, M. H., J. M. Heikoop, and M. J. Risk. 2006. A benthic survey of Aliwal Shoal and assessment of the effects of a wood pulp effluent on the reef. Marine Pollution Bulletin 52:503-514. 2006 South Africa Field Study & Monitoring Algae; Biological Monitoring, Mapping, & Scientific Research; Discharges; Encrusting Sponges; Sponges
Emmerich, A., V. Zamparelli, T. Bechstadt, and R. Zuhlke. 2005. The reefal margin and slope of a Middle Triassic carbonate platform: The Latemar (Dolomites, Italy). Facies 50:573-614. 2005 Model Encrusting Sponges; Sponges
Engel, S. and J. R. Pawlik. 2005. Interactions among Florida sponges. II. Mangrove habitats. Marine Ecology Progress Series 303:145-152. 2005 Florida Encrusting Sponges; Mangroves; Sponges; Tube, Barrel, & Finger Sponges
Jones, A. C., J. E. Blum, and J. R. Pawlik. 2005. Testing for defensive synergy in Caribbean sponges: Bad taste or glass spicules? Journal of Experimental Marine Biology and Ecology 322:67-81. 2005 South & Central America; Caribbean Lab Study; Model Complex Habitat & Resources; Encrusting Sponges; Fish; Mangroves; Planktivorous Fish; Sponges; Tube, Barrel, & Finger Sponges
Mariani, S., M. J. Uriz, and X. Turon. 2005. The dynamics of sponge larvae assemblages from northwestern Mediterranean nearshore bottoms. Journal of Plankton Research 27:249-262. 2005 Cuba Lab Study Artificial Habitat; Boring Sponges; Encrusting Sponges; Light; Plankton; Sponges
Metaxas, A. and J. Davis. 2005. Megafauna associated with assemblages of deep-water gorgonian corals in Northeast Channel, off Nova Scotia, Canada. Journal of the Marine Biological Association of the United Kingdom 85:1381-1390. 2005 Anemones & Zooanthids; Echinoderms; Encrusting Sponges; Octocoral; Seastars; Sponges
Diaz, M. C., K. P. Smith, and K. Rutzler. 2004. Sponge species richness and abundance as indicators of mangrove epibenthic community health. Atoll Research Bulletin 17-Jan. 2004 South & Central America; Belize; Caribbean Index or Indicator Encrusting Sponges; Mangroves; Sponges; Substrate; Tube, Barrel, & Finger Sponges
Hill, M. F., J. D. Witman, and H. Caswell. 2004. Markov chain analysis of succession in a rocky subtidal community. The American Naturalist 164. 2004 Model Encrusting Sponges; Sponges
Soja, C. M., M. Mitchell, A. J. Newton, J. Vendetti, C. Visaggi, A. I. Antoshkina, and B. White. 2003. Paleoecology of sponge-?Hydroid associations in Silurian microbial reefs. Palaios 18:225-235. 2003 Echinoderms; Encrusting Sponges; Microorganisms; Sediment; Sponges; Substrate
Aronson, R. B., W. F. Precht, M. A. Toscano, and K. H. Koltes. 2002. The 1998 bleaching event and its aftermath on a coral reef in Belize. Marine Biology 141:435-447. 2002 Global; South & Central America; Belize Algae; Complex Habitat & Resources; Encrusting Sponges; Sea Temperatures; Sea Urchins; Sponges; Stony Coral; Substrate
Bell, J. J. 2002. Morphological responses of a cup coral to environmental gradients. Sarsia 87:319-330. 2002 Encrusting Sponges; Sediment; Sponges
Rutzler, K. 2002. Impact of crustose clionid sponges on Caribbean reef corals. Acta Geologica Hispanica 37:61-72. 2002 South & Central America; US East Coast (NC, SC, GA); Bermuda; Belize; Caribbean Field Study & Monitoring Boring Sponges; Cyanobacteria; Encrusting Sponges; Fish; Microorganisms; Physical Damage; Sediment; Skeletal Coral; Sponges; Stony Coral; Substrate
Teruya, T., S. Nakagawa, T. Koyama, K. Suenaga, and D. Uemura. 2002. Terpiodiene: A novel tricyclic alcohol from the Okinawan sponge Terpios hoshinota. Chemistry Letters 1:38-39. 2002 Encrusting Sponges; Sponges
Carlon, D. B. 2001. Depth-related patterns of coral recruitment and cryptic suspension-feeding invertebrates on Guana Island, British Virgin Islands. Bulletin of Marine Science 68:525-541. 2001 South & Central America; US Virgin Islands; British Virgin Islands; Caribbean Algae; Bivalves; Coralline Algae; Encrusting Sponges; Sponges; Stony Coral
Grasshoff, M. 2000. The gorgonians of the Sinai coast and the Strait of Gubal, Red Sea (Coelenterata, Octocorallia). CFS Courier Forschungsinstitut Senckenberg 1-125. 2000 US Pacific & Hawaii Field Study & Monitoring Encrusting Sponges; Octocoral
Waddell, B. and J. R. Pawlik. 2000. Defenses of Caribbean sponges against invertebrate predators. II. Assays with sea stars. Marine Ecology Progress Series 195:133-144. 2000 South & Central America; Florida; Bahamas; China; Caribbean Encrusting Sponges; Invertebrates; Lobster, Crab, & Shrimp; Mangroves; Seastars; Sponges; Tube, Barrel, & Finger Sponges
Hajdu, E. and K. Rutzler. 1998. Sponges, genus Mycale (Poecilosclerida: Demospongiae: Porifera), from a Caribbean mangrove and comments on subgeneric classification. Proceedings of the Biological Society of Washington 111:737-773. 1998 South & Central America; Belize; Caribbean Encrusting Sponges; Mangroves; Sponges
Pawlik, J. R. 1998. Coral reef sponges: Do predatory fishes affect their distribution? Limnology and Oceanography 43:1396-1399. 1998 South & Central America; Caribbean Encrusting Sponges; Mangroves; Sponges; Tube, Barrel, & Finger Sponges
Dunlap, M. and J. R. Pawlik. 1996. Video-monitored predation by Caribbean reef fishes on an array of mangrove and reef sponges. Marine Biology 126:117-123. 1996 South & Central America; Florida; Caribbean Corallivorous Fish; Encrusting Sponges; Fish; Invertivorous Fish; Large Herbivorous Fish; Mangroves; Sponges
Roberts, D. E. and A. R. Davis. 1996. Patterns in sponge (Porifera) assemblages on temperate coastal reefs off Sydney, Australia. Marine and Freshwater Research 47:897-906. 1996 Australia Encrusting Sponges; Sponges
Rutzler, K. and K. Muzik. 1993. Terpios hoshinota, a new cyanobacteriosponge threatening Pacific reefs. Pages 395-403 in M.J. Uriz;Klaus Rutzler, editor. Recent Advances in Ecology and Systematics of Sponges. Scientia Marina. 1993 US Pacific & Hawaii Encrusting Sponges; Pathogens; Sponges
Rutzler, K. and K. P. Smith. 1993. The genus Terpios (Suberitidae) and new species in the complex. Scientia Marina 57:381-393. 1993 South & Central America; Caribbean Encrusting Sponges; Microorganisms
Stierle, A. C., J. H. C. II, and F. L. .Singleton. 1988. A marine Micrococcus produces metaabolites ascribed to the sponge Tedania ignis. Experientia 44:1021. 1988 Encrusting Sponges; Sponges
Larkum, A. W. D., G. C. Cox, R. G. Hiller, D. L. Parry, and T. P. Dibbayawan. 1987. Filamentous cyanophytes containing phycourobilin and in symbiosis with sponges and an ascidian of coral reefs. Marine Biology 95:13-Jan. 1987 Australia Encrusting Sponges; Sponges
Plucer-Rosario, G. 1987. The effect of substratum on the growth of Terpios, an encrusting sponge which kills corals. Coral Reefs 5:197-200. 1987 Guam Field Study & Monitoring Algae; Encrusting Sponges; Sponges; Stony Coral
Cox, G. C., R. G. Hiller, and A. W. D. Larkum. 1985. An unusual cyanophyte, containing phycourobilin and symbiotic with ascidians and sponges. Marine Biology 89:149-163. 1985 Australia Encrusting Sponges; Sponges
Mebs, D., I. Weiler, and H. F. Heinke. 1985. Bioactive proteins from marine sponges: Screening of sponge extracts for hemagglutinating, hemolytic, ichthyotoxic and lethal properties and isolation and characterization of hemagglutinins. Toxicon 23:955-962. 1985 Florida; Australia Encrusting Sponges; Sponges
Logan, A., S. M. Mathers, and M. L. H. Thomas. 1984. Sessile invertebrate coelobite communities from reefs of Bermuda: Species composition and distribution. Coral Reefs 2:205-213. 1984 Bermuda; Madagascar Algae; Coralline Algae; Encrusting Sponges; Light; Sponges; Substrate
Bryan, P. G. 1973. Growth Rate, Toxicity, and Distribution of the Encrusting Sponge Terpios sp. (Hadromerida; Suberitidae) in Guam, Mariana Islands. Micronesica 9:237-242. 1973 Guam Encrusting Sponges; Sponges

Management Options

Management Option Description Sources Database Topics
Resource Use Management: Develop Regulations for Sponge Fisheries Sponges play a vital role on reefs, providing structure, food and filtration. Depending on the method of removal, this process can be very destructive to other reef fauna and habitat. Research is needed to compare impacts of different sponge fishing methods in different areas. NOAA Marine Sanctuary Program. 2007. Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary revised management plan. National Ocean Service, Key West, FL.

Accidental & Illegal Harvest; Biochemical & Genetic Resources; Biological Harvest; Biological Monitoring, Mapping, & Scientific Research; Boring Sponges; Commercial Fisheries; Contact Uses; Culture; Cyanobacteria; Educational & Research Opportunities; Encrusting Sponges; Finfish Harvest; Fisheries & Hunting Policies; Fishing & Harvesting Management; Fishing Sector; Invertebrate Harvest; Live Collection; Marine Products; Microorganisms; Nutrient & Contaminant Processing; Pharmaceuticals & Cosmetics Sources; Physical Damage; Resource Use Management; Scientific Research; Sponges; Tourism & Recreation; Tourism & Recreation Policies; Trawling & Fishing Gear Damage; Tube, Barrel, & Finger Sponges


Legal Citation Purpose of Law Management Organization Database Topics

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