Dissolved silicon (DSi) is a key marine nutrient. Sponges and diatoms are relevant DSi consumers, but sponges appear to have a less efficient uptake system that requires higher ambient DSI concentrations for maximum uptake. We experimentally tested whether a sponge adapted to live at the intertidal (Hymeniacidon perlevis) also shows such a need for high DSi. Under laboratory conditions, sponges were exposed to both the natural DSi concentration (10 μM) and much higher levels (25, 40, and 70 μM) for 36 h, being water samples taken at 6 h intervals to infer DSi uptake. Uptake rates shifted over time (particularly in high DSi treatments) and showed moderate inter-individual variability. Average DSi uptake rate at 70 μM was twice higher than those at 40 and 25 μM, which in turn were not significantly different from each other, but were twice higher than the uptake rate at 10 μM. Therefore, H. perlevis needs, for efficient uptake, ambient DSi concentrations two to four times higher than the maximum available in its natural habitat. From an eco-physiological point of view, it means that the skeletal growth in the populations of H. perlevis is chronically limited by DSi availability, a limitation that may favor sponge evolution toward skeletal slimming.
- Benthic-pelagic coupling
- Nutrient limitation