Term of Award

Fall 2005

Degree Name

Master of Science in Biology (M.S.)

Document Type and Release Option

Thesis (open access)

Department

Department of Biology

Committee Chair

Daniel F. Gleason

Committee Member 1

Stephen P. Vives

Committee Member 2

Alan W. Harvey

Committee Member 3

Bruce A. Schulte

Abstract

The interaction between predation and anti-predator defenses of prey is important in shaping community structure in all ecosystems. This study examined the relationship between sponge predation and the distribution of sponge anti-predator defenses on temperate reefs in the South Atlantic Bight. Significant differences in the distribution of sponge species, sponge densities, and densities of sponge predators were documented across two adjacent reef habitats. Significant differences also occurred in the distribution of sponge chemical and structural defenses with chemical deterrence significantly greater in sponges associated with the habitat having higher predation intensity. Structural defenses, although effective in some instances, appear to be inadequate against spongivorous predators thereby restricting the distribution of sponge species lacking chemical defenses to habitats with lower predation intensity. These results, when compared to published data from tropical studies, also indicate that predation pressure and the production of anti-predator defenses may be inversely correlated with latitude.

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