Gastropod Shell Substrates of the Florida Hermit-Crab Sponge, Spongosorites Suberitoides, from the Gulf of Mexico
Certain suberitid and halichondrid sponges typically encrust gastropod shells that are often occupied by hermit crabs. In reports of the sponges in these associations the shell substrates are usually not identified. In this study, 643 Florida hermit-crab sponges, Spongosorites suberitoides, from the NE corner of the Gulf of Mexico were dissected and the shell substrate identified. Sponges were collected at shoreline or in shallow water near shore on Dog Island, Florida and in water 3-4 m deep in Apalachee Bay from January 1993 to January 1995. Twenty different gastropods were found, but three species – Cantharus cancellarius (72%), Nassarius acutus (11%), and Pyrgospira ostrearum (7.5%) – comprised the substrate in over 90% of the sample. Some shells were small (<5 mm) and most were in good condition, showing no erosion or damage by the encrusting sponge. All shells were covered by sponge gemmules. The sponge also encrusts other mollusks (e.g., scaphopods) and other animate and inanimate substrates. The wide diversity of gastropod species found is inconsistent with any substrate specificity. Cantharus cancellarius may predominate because of its greater relative abundance in habitats where sponge reproduction or substrate colonization occurs, because of its behavior (e.g., typically non-burrowing), or because its rough texture of ridges and grooves provides a more optimal surface for sponge settlement and early growth.
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Document Type: Research Article
Publication date: 1997-09-01
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