Marine and Freshwater Research Marine and Freshwater Research Society
Advances in the aquatic sciences
RESEARCH ARTICLE

Patterns of reproduction in two co-occurring Great Barrier Reef sponges

Muhammad Azmi Abdul Wahab A E , Rocky de Nys B , Ross Holzman B , Caroline Luise Schneider A and Steve Whalan C D

A Australian Institute of Marine Science (AIMS), Indian Ocean Marine Research Centre, The University of Western Australia (MO96), 35 Stirling Highway, Crawley, WA 6009, Australia.

B MACRO – the Centre for Macroalgal Resources & Biotechnology, College of Science and Engineering, James Cook University, Townsville, Qld 4811, Australia.

C Central Caribbean Marine Institute, Little Cayman Research Centre, North Coast Road, PO Box 37, Little Cayman, KY3-2501, Cayman Islands.

D Marine Ecology Research Centre, School of Environment, Science and Engineering, Southern Cross University, Military Road, PO Box 157, East Lismore, NSW 2480, Australia.

E Corresponding author. Email: m.abdulwahab@aims.gov.au

Marine and Freshwater Research - http://dx.doi.org/10.1071/MF16272
Submitted: 28 July 2016  Accepted: 28 October 2016   Published online: 22 December 2016

Abstract

Reproduction is a key biological process that underpins the persistence and maintenance of populations. However, information on the reproductive biology of Great Barrier Reef (GBR) sponges is depauperate. The present study established the reproductive biology of two co-occurring GBR sponges, namely Ianthella basta (Verongida) and Ircinia sp. (Dictyoceratida). Sponges were haphazardly sampled (monthly) over a period of 1 year. Histological analysis of samples established the sexuality, development, seasonality, gametogenesis and fecundity of the two species, as well as the effects of temperature on reproduction. I. basta is oviparous, whereas Ircinia sp. is viviparous. The mode of sexuality in I. basta could not be determined, because male propagules were not detected, whereas Ircinia sp. is a simultaneous hermaphrodite. Reproduction in I. basta is unique within the verongids and co-occurring oviparous species, with peak reproduction occurring at the minimum annual temperature (23°C) and spawning occurring as the temperature increased above 23.4°C. Reproduction in Ircinia sp. corresponded to patterns reported for other viviparous GBR species, with an increase in reproductive propagules, peak sperm release, fertilisation and spawning occurring at temperatures above 25°C. Fecundity in I. basta and Ircinia sp. is high compared with other sponge species in the region, which may contribute to their apparent abundance on the GBR.

Additional keywords: Ianthella basta, Ircinia sp., phenology, population dynamics, Porifera, temperature.


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