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Population dynamics of cryptogenic calcarean sponges (Porifera, Calcarea) in Southeastern Brazil



M. Klautau, Universidade Federal do Rio de Janeiro, Instituto de Biologia, Departamento de Zoologia, Avenida Carlos Chagas Filho, 373, CCS, Cidade Universitária, Rio de Janeiro, RJ 21941-902., Brazil.



The calcarean sponge Paraleucilla magna is classified as being an invasive species on the Mediterranean Sea, where it causes economic damages to mollusc farms. On the Brazilian coast, this species is considered to be cryptogenic, and information on its ecology is scarce. The same is true for Sycettusa hastifera, another calcarean sponge with a worldwide distribution. Data on the ecology of these species could help in elucidating their potential to become a threat if they are found to be exotic species in Brazil. In the present work, we studied habitat selection, growth and mortality of early juveniles of P. magna and habitat selection of S. hastifera in a Marine Reserve from Southeastern Brazil, where these species are abundant in the benthic community. Granite plates were used for habitat selection analysis, varying in substrate inclination (vertical and horizontal) and exposure to light and hydrodynamism (exposed and sheltered). To analyse the growth and mortality rates, sponges were mapped and then measured once a week for 10 weeks. If a monitored sponge was not found in the following week, it was considered to be dead. Our results showed that, although P. magna and S. hastifera are capable of inhabiting substrates exposed to different environmental conditions, they showed habitat preferences. Growth of the juveniles of P. magna seemed not to have damaged any neighbouring invertebrates. The mortality of juveniles of this species was higher during the first 2 weeks of life but its causes could not be elucidated.