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Reveal the controlling factors of the Aplysina fulva, a. caissara and a. cauliformis communities on the Coast of São Paulo

Grant number: 19/07957-5
Support type:Scholarships in Brazil - Master
Effective date (Start): June 01, 2019
Effective date (End): May 31, 2021
Field of knowledge:Biological Sciences - Ecology
Principal Investigator:Cristiane Cassiolato Pires Hardoim
Grantee:Julia Peres Ramalho
Home Institution: Instituto de Biociências (IB-CLP). Universidade Estadual Paulista (UNESP). Campus Experimental do Litoral Paulista. São Vicente , SP, Brazil
Associated research grant:16/17189-7 - Holobiome of the marine sponges, effects of the climate changes and biotechnological potentials: a holistic and multidisciplinary approach, AP.PFPMCG.JP

Abstract

Marine sponges play a variety of roles that contribute to ecosystem functioning, such as food for some animals such as fish and turtles, while for others such as micro-crustaceans and polychaetes they provide a safety micro-habitat. The sponges act as "bioaccelerators" of the solid carbonate fragmentation process of rock and corals, releasing smaller fragments and fine sediments. They also play key roles in the connection between primary and secondary production of dissolved and particulate organic matter and participate in the nitrogen and sulfur cycle. Brazil currently has 527 species of sponges (approximately 6% of the Porifera diversity described), of which 49 are endemic. However, there are many gaps in knowledge especially related to the ecology of these animals. Thus, this project will determine which top-down factor controls the growth of sponges Aplysina fulva, A. caissara (endemic) and A. cauliformis present in the coast of São Paulo. In situ experiments will be performed to evaluate if predation especially by fish will influence the growth of the sponges of the genus Aplysina. Monitoring sponges in their natural habitat presents a challenge to the project. The results obtained in this project will be innovative for investigating South Atlantic sponges and will allow a better understanding of the ecology of these animals as well as evaluate how predators affect sponge growth. The question of this project is: "What are the predators that negatively affect the growth of Aplysina species on the coast of São Paulo?"