All ETDs from UAB

Advisory Committee Chair

James B McClintock

Advisory Committee Members

Charles D Amsler

Megan E Gibbons

Document Type


Date of Award


Degree Name by School

Master of Science (MS) College of Arts and Sciences


Sessile benthic marine organisms such as sponges are frequently colonized by a wide diversity of invertebrates. The present study focused on a quantitative analysis of the mesofauna associated with the common subtropical/tropical sponge Amphimedon viridis and explored several criteria for the basis for this mesofauna-sponge relationship. Specimens of Amphimedon viridis were hand-collected individually in bags from both Saint Joseph Bay, Florida Panhandle, and Sugar Loaf Key, Florida Keys between April - November 2006. Quantitative analyses of sponge surfaces and interiors revealed that the most common sponge-associated group was comprised of amphipods, followed by polychaetes and tenaid crustaceans. 35 percent of sponge-associated individuals were recovered from the interstices of the sponge. A total of 707 individuals per 1 cm3 of sponge material were found within 15 sponge samples of A. viridis. Shannon diversity and evenness indices indicated that A. viridis supports a diverse community of spongeassociated invertebrates including amphipods, polychaetes, tenaids, decapods, and isopods. These sponge-associated invertebrate groups may occupy sponges for a number of reasons. For example, physical or chemical protection from fish predation may impose a strong selective pressure that sustains these relationships. Moreover, nutritional iii needs, reproductive behaviors, and social interactions could also contribute to these sponge associations. In order to evaluate whether Amphimedon viridis provides a refuge from predation for sponge-associated mesofauna, laboratory feeding experiments were conducted to assess the palability of A. viridis to the generalistic sympatric pinfish Lagodon rhomboides. In feeding assays employing small pieces of sponge tissue and control squid tissue, pinfish displayed a strong significant rejection for sponge tissues when compared with control squid tissues. Alginate food pellets loaded with ecologically relevant concentrations of spicules isolated from A. viridis caused a weak but significant deterrent response in pinfish when compared to food pellets lacking spicules. However, alginate food pellets containing tissue-level concentrations of lipophilic and hydrophilic sponge extracts were highly deterrent to pinfish when compared to control food pellets. It is concluded that while both physical and chemical characteristics of A. viridis may contribute to its quality as a habitat resource, potent secondary metabolites, likely halotoxins and amphitoxins, play a particularly important role in providing a chemical refuge for associated mesofauana.



To view the content in your browser, please download Adobe Reader or, alternately,
you may Download the file to your hard drive.

NOTE: The latest versions of Adobe Reader do not support viewing PDF files within Firefox on Mac OS and if you are using a modern (Intel) Mac, there is no official plugin for viewing PDF files within the browser window.