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Keywords:

  • Ionian Sea;
  • restocking;
  • Spongia officinalis;
  • transplantation sponges

Abstract

The present study focuses on the reproductive success of transplants of the bath sponge Spongia officinalis Linnaeus, 1759, with the aim of investigating the possibility of restocking this species, one of the most endangered organisms of the Mediterranean sessile zoobenthos. Transplants of S. officinalis, collected from a wild population along the Apulian coasts (Ionian Sea, Italy), have been moved into an area where the species was present in the past. The transplants consisted both of specimens in toto and of fragments of different sizes, obtained after having cut the mother sponge into pieces. All transplanted sponges showed complete cicatrisation of the cut surfaces within a month of the initial manipulation and had a survival rate of 100% throughout the 12 months of the study. From the present investigation, it has emerged that the reproductive effort and the larval release by the transplants do not differ significantly from those shown by the source population. This successful technical approach supports its application as a strategy for restocking the population of this endangered species.