Pawlik, J. R., & McMurray, S. E. (2020). The Emerging Ecological and Biogeochemical Importance of Sponges on Coral Reefs. Annual Review of Marine Science, 12.
With the decline of reef-building corals on tropical reefs, sponges have emerged as an important component of changing coral reef ecosystems. Seemingly simple, sponges are highly diverse taxonomically, morphologically, and in terms of their relationships with symbiotic microbes, and they are one of nature's richest sources of novel secondary metabolites. Unlike most other benthic organisms, sponges have the capacity to disrupt boundary flow as they pump large volumes of seawater into the water column. This seawater is chemically transformed as it passes through the sponge body as a consequence of sponge feeding, excretion, and the activities of microbial symbionts, with important effects on carbon and nutrient cycling and on the organisms in the water column and on the adjacent reef. In this review, we critically evaluate developments in the recently dynamic research area of sponge ecology on tropical reefs and provide a perspective for future studies.