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A sponge of the Cliona viridis complex invades and excavates corals of Gulf of Mannar, southeast India
Sponges play an important role in biogenic coral reef degradation, and it is acknowledged that elevated levels of sponge erosion commonly indicate poor health of coral reef environments. An increase in coral-excavating sponge abundances has been reported from a number of locations, a development that may move coral reef carbonate budgets increasingly towards net erosion. The role of coral-excavating sponges on Indian reefs has not been studied in as much detail as elsewhere. This paper describes the observation of a coral-excavating sponge from the family Clionaidae. This brown, endolithic sponge formed a coherent thin layer over the surface of the substratum and had a spicule complement of tylostyles and spirasters. It thus belongs to the Cliona viridis species complex, which as group is widely distributed and commonly displays high bioerosion rates. Accurate identification will require molecular studies and is presently deferred. The sponge was found excavating only Turbinaria mesenterina colonies of Gulf of Mannar. Within the surveyed area of 60 m2 38.58% of T. mesenterina colonies found to be invaded by the sponge. Targeted long-term studies across a larger spatial scale are warrented to assess the role of this sponge in more detail, and whether its abundances change over time
MF17247 Accepted 08 November 2017
© CSIRO 2017