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Free Content Community structure of the living fossil coralline sponge populations at the Grotto, Saipan, Northern Mariana Islands

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An extensive hermatypic sponge community at a popular dive site called The Grotto is described from Saipan, Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands. The community is dominated by the coralline sponge Acanthochaetetes wellsi with a maximum density of 672 individuals m−2. The coralline sponge Astrosclera willeyana, and the lithistid sponge Leiodermatium sp. are also present but at lower densities. A. wellsi and A. willeyana were most dense at depths >9–16 m. These sponges prefer the low illumination found in specialized cryptic habitats in warm tropical waters, but are not necessarily found on coral reefs. Two previously unreported hermatypic sponge communities on Saipan and on the neighboring island of Tinian are briefly mentioned. There was no evidence that present dive practices are damaging these cryptic communities. However, owing to the slow growth of these sponges, recovery from damage to the community may take a century or more.

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Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: 1999-07-01

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  • The Bulletin of Marine Science is dedicated to the dissemination of high quality research from the world's oceans. All aspects of marine science are treated by the Bulletin of Marine Science, including papers in marine biology, biological oceanography, fisheries, marine affairs, applied marine physics, marine geology and geophysics, marine and atmospheric chemistry, and meteorology and physical oceanography.
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