Training in Tropical Taxonomy

2007 Courses

Taxonomy and Ecology of Caribbean Sponges

Sponges

Dates: August 18-Sept. 1, 2007. (Note Date Change)
Instructors:

Dr. Robert Thacker
University of Alabama at Birmingham
CV in PDF

Robert Thacker

Sally Leys
University of Alberta
sleys@ualberta.ca

Sally Leys

Dr. Cristina Diaz
Smithsonian Institution.
CV in PDF
Cristina Diaz

Organizer: 

Dr. Rachel Collin
STRI

Dr Rachel Collin

Supported by a grant from the

Smithsonian Institution's Women's Committee and SENACYT

Course Description

The course is aimed at graduate students, post-docs, or professionals who are interested in learning and applying knowledge about the diversity and ecology of one of the most conspicuous organisms in tropical benthic marine ecosystems. The students participating in this course will:

  1. Learn to describe and identify the most common sponges from the mangroves and shallow coral reefs of the Bocas del Toro region
  2. Learn general biological and ecological characteristics of the group.
  3. Gain hands-on ecological and taxonomic experience with tropical marine sponges.
  4. Learn basic ecological survey techniques.
  5. Learn how to measure photosynthesis rates of sponge symbionts.

This course seeks to give the participant the necessary tools to continue studies on the taxonomy and /or ecology of sponges. The course will last ten days, with four days dedicated to taxonomic training, including the characteristics and identification of the various sponge orders. Common taxa at Bocas del Toro will be identified to species. Four days will consider the general ecology of sponges, including topics such as feeding, reproduction, competition, chemical ecology, and biogeography. We will conduct surveys of sponges at several field sites near the Bocas Research Station to collect baseline data for conservation and for future studies. The remaining five days will be dedicated to an independent project, and its presentation. Daily activities will include: morning and afternoon lectures, a field trip, lab work, and discussion sections or talks.

 

Course Registration Fee

$600 (Includes room and board, STRI registration, etc)

Some Fellowships will be available

 

Application Procedure

Applications will be accepted after December 1, 2006 and must be complete before May 1, 2007. Applications that are not complete by that time will not be considered.

Please e-mail your CV, 1 letter of recommendation, and a 1-2 page statement explaining your background and reasons for taking the course, to Rachel Collin at CollinR@si.edu

Limit 12 students.

Participants

 

Sponge Course 2007

 

Student   Information
 
We want to set up an "inventory of martinican sponges" (Martinique , FWI). I already study sponges with Vacelet and BouryEsnault in Centre d'Oceanologie de Marseille. Then I want to improve my knowledge in the Caribbean sponges before starting our project.
Tse-Lynn Loh
Tse-Lynn Loh
tl7275@uncw.edu
 
My research interests are on sponge-coral interactions on coral reefs. My current project investigates a potential mutualism between the semi-cryptic sponge Mycale laevis and scleractinian corals. This association is postulated to protect corals from being invaded by boring clionid sponges.
Paco Cardenas
Paco Cardenas
Paco.Cardenas@bio.uib.no
 
PhD project: Molecular phylogeny and taxonomy of the Astrophorida (Porifera: Demospongiae).

Interests: The order Astrophorida encompasses around 660 species worldwide. To date, morphological data has not been able to reveal the inter and intra-family relationships of that order. My Ph.D proposes to resolve the relationships amongst the Astrophorida using independent data sets from molecular sequences. A reassessment of the NE Atlantic Astrophorida is also one of my projects.

Gideon Tirosh
Gideon Tirosh
doarstam@gmail.com
  My research interests are:
A. The taxonomy of the IRCINIIDAE (Porifera: Demospongiae) family along the Israeli Mediterranean coast.
B. The effect of temperature change on the sponges, HSP levels, growth rate, change of microorganism community.
  I am a graduate student at University of Alabama at Birmingham. I am currently investigating microbial communities associated with the gemmules of the freshwater sponge Radiospongilla crateriformis. This project may reveal new information on the transmission mechanisms of microbial symbionts. In addition to my research, I also assist Dr. Thacker with his taxonomy and molecular systematics projects.
Erick Sperling
Erick Sperling
erik.sperling@yale.edu
  I am interested in the origin and early evolution of sponges and basal metazoans. I use a molecular paleobiological approach, combining data from molecular biology and the geologic record to understand the timing and causes of early animal evolution. To date, my work has involved sequencing seven nuclear housekeeping genes from sponges in an effort to test the hypothesis that sponges are paraphyletic. I am also interested in the origin and homology of biomineralization within sponges, and as part of this work am attempting to understand the phylogenetic relationships of the 'keratose' or aspiculate demosponges with respect to spiculate demosponges.
  My bachelor thesis is based on the taxonomy of sponges from the Chalinidae Family in the Restinga Lagoon, Margarita Island, Venezuela. I also plan to continue doing research on ecology and taxonomy of sponges in this Lagoon.
Belinda Longakit
Belinda Longakit
Smithsonian Women's Committee Fellow
blongakit@yahoo.com
  I am interested in documenting the sponges of the Philippines. I am successful in doing this for one island yet and I’m presently working on the collection of another island, using morphological and histological characterizations. I’m looking forward to learning advance techniques in doing sponge identification especially on molecular systematics and chemotaxonomy.
Alice Rodriguez
Alice Rodriguez Perez P.
Smithsonian Women's Committee Fellow
alisrpp@hotmail.com
  My future interests are situated in the field of comparative studies concerning Caribbean and Mediterranean Sponges and contrasting life cycles of some key species. Since I am familiarized with Mediterranean species, I consider this course a great opportunity to gain knowledge of taxonomy and ecology of Caribbean sponges.
Edlin Guerra
Edlin Guerra
eguerra@ivic.ve
  I want to approach the patterns and process involved in mangrove root fouling community structure, and for that purpose, I am very interested in being trained in taxonomy and ecological aspects of Caribbean sponges, which is the predominant taxonomic group of the root fouling community.
Sara Rivero
Sara Rivero
sara_erasmus@yahoo.es
  I am a graduate student at the University of Puerto Rico, my master thesis research focuses on the ecology of Caribbean sponges and their role in mesophotic coral reefs (30-100m). One of the objectives is to test several parameters that may explain sponges' distribution patterns. I am particularly interested in sponge symbioses with autotrophs and how this relates to spatial and temporal variations of light spectral quality and quantity.
Caterina Longo
Caterina Longo
Smithsonian Women's Committee Fellow
c.longo@biologia.uniba.it
  My research interests are: taxonomy and ecology of Mediterranean sponges in sea caves, lagoons, superficial coastal environments and deep-waters; biodiversity and biogeography of Mediterranean sponge species; sponge farming, restocking and bioremediation of commercial species. Currently I am studying the relationship between a calcareous alien invasive sponge species and the native community in a semi-enclosed basin in the southern Italy. My PhD project, titled “Analysis and set up of marine bioremediation methodology using marine sponges”, aims to study the possibility to use sponges as marine bioremediator in environments with different degree of bacterial pollution.
Linnet Lopez
Linnet Busutil Lopez
linnet_bl@yahoo.es
Smithsonian Women's Committee Fellow
  I have obtained my B.Sc. degree in Biology at the University of Havana. Actually I am working at the Institute of Oceanology of Cuba, particularly in the Marine Biology Department, where I am a member of the Coral Reef working group. I have started to study Ecology and Systematics of Sponges, and I receive direct advisory from Dr. Pedro Manuel Alcolado-Menéndez. At present I am studying the structure of the sponge community and the importance of their usefulness as environmental bioindicators.

Ronan Roche
Ronan Roche
ronanroche@gmail.com

  My research interests consist of examining anthropogenic impacts on reef community composition, and the potential of using ecological surveys to quantify reef resilience. I am currently planning the research portion of my PhD, and aim to gain valuable experience in the taxonomy of sponges, to broaden the scope of reef surveys.

Course Materials

Please access the reprints page.

Presentations and Publications

Presentations

Mobley, A. S., L. Busutil, S. P. Leys, M. C. Diaz, R. Collin, and R. W. Thacker. 2008. Phototactic responses of larvae from the marine sponge Xestospongia proxima. Annual Meeting of the Society for Integrative and Comparative Biology. San Antonio, Texas.

Thacker, R. W., R. Collin, M. C. Diaz, G. Lambert, R. Rocha, and C. Lambert. 2007. Training in Tropical Taxonomy: Training for new investigators in the field and laboratory. 36th Annual Benthic Ecology Meeting. Atlanta, Georgia.

Erwin, P. M., and R. W. Thacker. 2007. Cryptic diversity of symbiotic cyanobacteria in coral reef sponges: host-specificity and ecological significance. 36th Annual Benthic Ecology Meeting. Atlanta, Georgia.

Kimble, S. J. A., R. W. Thacker, and M. C. Diaz. 2007. Sponge diversity on mangrove roots: Does size matter? 36th Annual Benthic Ecology Meeting. Atlanta, Georgia.

Thacker, R. W. 2007. Evolutionary specialization of sponge-cyanobacteria symbioses: co-speciation vs. colonization. Annual Meeting of the Society for Integrative and Comparative Biology. Phoenix, Arizona.

Collin, R., L. Weigt, A. Driskell, R. Rocha, M.-P. Miglietta, and R. W. Thacker. 2007. All Bocas Barcoding Alliance, Part 1: DNA barcoding of the marine organisms of Bocas del Toro, Panama. Annual Meeting of the Society for Integrative and Comparative Biology. Phoenix, Arizona.

Thacker, R. W., R. Collin, M. C. Diaz, G. Lambert, R. Rocha, and C. Lambert. 2007. Training in Tropical Taxonomy: Training for new investigators in the field and laboratory. Annual Meeting of the Society for Integrative and Comparative Biology. Phoenix, Arizona.

Erwin, P. M., and R. W. Thacker. 2007. Host-specificity of sponge-associated unicellular cyanobacteria, Candidatus Synechococcus spongiarum. Annual Meeting of the Society for Integrative and Comparative Biology. Phoenix, Arizona.

Kimble, S. J. A., R. W. Thacker, and M. C. Diaz. 2007. Sponge diversity on mangrove roots: Does size matter? Annual Meeting of the Society for Integrative and Comparative Biology. Phoenix, Arizona.

Thacker, R. W. 2006. Cyanobacterial symbionts of marine sponges: Current status and new directions. Roundtable presentation for Marine Sponges as Microbial Fermenters. 11th International Symposium on Microbial Ecology. Vienna, Austria.

Thacker, R. W., and P. M. Erwin. 2006. Contributions of cyanobacterial symbionts to host sponge metabolism. 11th International Symposium on Microbial Ecology. Vienna, Austria.

Thacker, R. W., and P. M. Erwin. 2006. Cyanobacterial symbionts of marine sponges: Evolutionary specialization and contributions to host sponge metabolism. 5th International Symbiosis Society Congress. Vienna, Austria.

Thacker, R. W., M. C. Diaz, K. Rützler, P. M. Erwin, S. J. A. Kimble, and M. J. Pierce. 2006. Filamentous cyanobacterial symbionts of Caribbean sponges. 7th International Sponge Symposium. Búzios, Brazil.

Erwin, P. M., and R. W. Thacker. 2006. Incidence, identity and importance of photosynthetic symbionts in shallow-water coral reef sponge communities. 7th International Sponge Symposium. Búzios, Brazil.

Diaz, M. C., R. W. Thacker, and K. Rützler. 2006. Haliclona sp. nov. and Xestospongia sp. nov.: Two new sponge species from Bocas del Toro (Panama) with a unique cyanobacterial association. 7th International Sponge Symposium. Búzios, Brazil.

Schlöder, C., R. W. Thacker, and D. Gochfeld. 2006. Effect of anthropogenic disturbance on sponge community structure and disease incidence. 7th International Sponge Symposium. Búzios, Brazil.

Diaz, M. C., R. W. Thacker, G. Muricy, and R. Collin. 2006. Taxonomy and ecology of Caribbean sponges: Effective training for new investigators. 7th International Sponge Symposium. Búzios, Brazil.

Thacker, R. W. 2006. Sponge-cyanobacteria symbioses. Symbiofest 2006. Athens, Georgia.

Erwin, P. M., and R. W. Thacker. 2006. Photosynthetic symbionts of Panamanian coral reef sponges. 83rd Annual Meeting of the Alabama Academy of Science. Troy, Alabama.

Erwin, P. M., and R. W. Thacker. 2006. Sponge-photosymbiont associations in Caribbean coral reefs of Panama. 35th Annual Benthic Ecology Meeting. Quebec City, Quebec.

Erwin, P. M., and R. W. Thacker. 2006. Symbiosis between Caribbean coral reef sponges and cyanobacteria. Southeastern Ecology and Evolution Conference. Tuscaloosa, Alabama.

Diaz, M. C., R. W. Thacker, and R. Collin. 2006. Taxonomy and ecology of Caribbean sponges: effective training for new investigators. Annual Meeting of the Society for Integrative and Comparative Biology. Orlando, Florida.

Erwin, P. M., and R. W. Thacker. 2006. Incidence and importance of photosynthetic symbionts in shallow-water sponge communities. Annual Meeting of the Society for Integrative and Comparative Biology. Orlando, Florida.

 

Publications

Erwin, P. M. and R. W. Thacker. 2008. Cryptic diversity of the symbiotic cyanobacterium Synechococcus spongiarum among sponge hosts. Molecular Ecology. In press.

Erwin, P. M. and R. W. Thacker. 2008. Phototrophic nutrition and symbiont diversity of two Caribbean sponge-cyanobacteria symbioses. Marine Ecology Progress Series. In press.

Erwin, P. M. and R. W. Thacker. 2007. Incidence and identity of photosynthetic symbionts in Caribbean coral reef sponge communities. Journal of the Marine Biological Association of the United Kingdom 87: 1683-1692.

Thacker, R. W., M. C. Diaz, K. Rützler, P. M. Erwin, S. J. A. Kimble, M. J. Pierce, and S. L. Dillard. 2007. Phylogenetic relationships among the filamentous cyanobacterial symbionts of Caribbean sponges and a comparison of photosynthetic production between sponges hosting filamentous and unicellular cyanobacteria. In: Custódio, M. R., G. Lôbo-Hajdu, E. Hajdu, and G. Muricy (eds.). Porifera Research: Biodiversity, Innovation, and Sustainability, Série Livros 28. Museu Nacional, Rio de Janeiro. pp. 621-626.

Diaz, M. C., R. W. Thacker, and K. Rützler. 2007. Haliclona (Soestella) walentinae (Chalinidae, Haplosclerida) and Xestospongia bocatorensis (Petrosiidae, Haplosclerida), two new sponge species from Caribbean Panamá with filamentous cyanobacterial symbionts. In: Custódio, M. R., G. Lôbo-Hajdu, E. Hajdu, and G. Muricy (eds.). Porifera Research: Biodiversity, Innovation, and Sustainability, Série Livros 28. Museu Nacional, Rio de Janeiro. pp. 31-36.

Gochfeld, D. J., C. Schlöder, and R. W. Thacker. 2007. Effects of anthropogenic disturbance on sponge community structure and disease prevalence in Bocas del Toro, Panamá. In: Custódio, M. R., G. Lôbo-Hajdu, E. Hajdu, and G. Muricy (eds.). Porifera Research: Biodiversity, Innovation, and Sustainability, Série Livros 28. Museu Nacional, Rio de Janeiro. pp. 335-343.

Erwin, P. M. and R. W. Thacker. 2007. Phylogenetic analyses of marine sponges within the order Verongida: a comparison of morphological and molecular data. Invertebrate Biology 126(3): 220-234.