Coral reefs are increasingly threatened by anthropogenic disturbances and consequently coral cover and complexity are declining globally. However, bioeroding sponges, which are the principal agents of internal bioerosion on many coral reefs, are increasing in abundance on some degraded reefs, tipping them towards net carbonate erosion. The aim of this study was to identify the environmental factors that drive the erosion rates of the common Indonesian bioeroding sponge Spheciospongia cf. vagabunda. Sponge explants were attached to limestone blocks and deployed across seven sites characterized by different environmental conditions in the UNESCO Wakatobi Biosphere Reserve in Indonesia. Average bioerosion rates were 12.0 kg m−2 sponge tissue year−1 (±0.87 SE), and were negatively correlated with depth of settled sediment (r = −.717, p < .01) and showed weak positive correlation with water movement (r = .485, p = .012). Our results suggest that although bioeroding sponges may generally benefit from coral reef degradation, bioerosion rates may be reduced on reefs that are impacted by high sedimentation, which is a common regional stressor in the South-East Asian Indo-Pacific.
- reef degradation