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First report of the carnivorous sponge Lycopodina hypogea (Cladorhizidae) associated with marine debris, and its possible implications on deep-sea connectivity


Abstract and Figures

Nowadays, there are an increasing number of reports of deep-sea accumulation of marine debris, often associated with a wide array of pernicious effects on benthic fauna. Nevertheless, there is still a huge knowledge gap regarding the interaction of benthic organisms and marine debris. In this paper, we report for the first time the colonization of plastic debris by the protected sponges Lycopodina hypogea. The sponges were discovered growing on plastic debris tangled with nylon ropes on the Blanes canyon (northwestern Mediterranean Sea). Over 30 individuals of L. hypogea were identified attached on ca. 10 cm² plastic debris, an unusual feature for a species mostly known for low-density populations and a patchy distribution. The implications of this discovery are discussed, and it is suggested that marine debris might provide substrate for benthic species on otherwise unsuitable habitats, with its possible role as stepping-stones for deep-sea benthic connectivity needing further study.
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1Institut de Ciències del Mar (ICM-CSIC), Barcelona, Spain.
2Dipartamento di scienze e tecnologie biologiche e ambientali (DiSTeBA), University of Salento, Campus Ecotekne, S.P.6. Monteroni, 73100 Lecce, Italy.
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1. Introduction
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2. Order Poecilosclerida Topsent, 1928
2.1. Family Cladorhizidae 5>4I 
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>5>D 1<15 ?> 9DC 29775CD 5>4C 1>4 7B51D<I B54E354 D55D8<9;5 1<15 ?> D85
?D85B )9J5 13.7 X  μ= ?B35@C G5B5 >?D 6?E>4
 65G 453145C 17? D85 381>35 5>3?E>D5B ?6 1> E>;>?G> 31F5
C@?>75 G9D8?ED 1 @B?@5B Z<DB1D9?> CICD5= B5CE<D54 9> @1B1497=381>7
9>7 @85>?=5>1 3BICD1<9J9>7 9> D85 49C3?F5BI ?6 31B>9F?B?EC C@?>75C
,135<5D 1>4 ?EBIC>1E<D  -89<5 C@?>75C 6B?= D85
<14?B89J9415 61=9<I 814 255> ;>?G> 6?B 35>DEB95C 5>4I  L.
hypogea =?CD<I B5@?BD54 1C Asbestopluma hypogea G1C D85 ZBCD C@5395C
G85B5 CE38 1 E>9AE5 65549>7 8129DEC 3?E<4 25 ?2C5BF54 253?=9>7
1 =?45< ?B71>9C= 6?B D85 CDE4I ?6 31B>9F?B?EC C@?>75C 57 ,135<5D
1>4 E@?BD  $1BD9>1>4$1B9 5D 1<  E@?BD 5D 1< 
(1CD?B7E5] 5D 1<  1>4 1DDB13D9>7 D85 1DD5>D9?> ?6 2?D8 D85 C395>
D9Z3 3?==E>9DI 1>4 D85 75>5B1< @E2<93 D?G1B4C D89C E>9AE5 7B?E@ E<D9
=1D5<I <5149>7 D? 9DC 453<1B1D9?> 1C 1 @B?D53D54 C@5395C 2I D85 1B35<?>1
?>F5>D9?> +%'$')'( 
-89<5 ?B979>1<<I 49C3?F5B54 9> 31F5 5>F9B?>=5>DC D85 C@5395C G1C
C??> D85?B9J54 D? ?33EB 9> 455@C51 8129D1DC ,135<5D  4E5 D? D85
C81B54 C9=9<1B9D95C 25DG55> 2?D8 5>F9B?>=5>DC 1B=5<9> 1>4 ,135<5D
 )9>35 D85> C5F5B1< >5G C978D9>7C ?6 D85 C@?>75 81F5 255> B5
@?BD54 9> 2?D8 <9DD?B1< 31F5C 1;B1>'5DB939?<9 5D 1<  1>4 455@C51
5>F9B?>=5>DC 7E9<1B 5D 1<  1<391>9 5D 1<  85F1<4?>>O
5D 1<  ?EBD 5D 1<  )9D:L 5D 1<  9>3<E49>7 D85 % D
<1>D93 85F1<4?>>O 5D 1<  %5F5BD85<5CC 1>4 45C@9D5 D85 9>D5>
C9F5 5H@<?B1D9?> ?6 D85 455@C51 5>F9B?>=5>DC ?F5B D85 @1CD 453145C
D85 C@5395C C978D9>7C 1B5 CD9<< C31B35 1>4 9D @B5C5>DC 1 B1D85B @1D38I
1>4 49C:E>3D 49CDB92ED9?> G85B5 9D F5BI B1B5<I ?33EBC 9> 7B51D >E=25BC
85F1<4?>>O 5D 1< 
-89<5 49C3?F5B9>7 D85 ?B979> ?6 ?B71>9C=C 7B?G9>7 ?> 1BD9Z391< CE2
CDB1D5C =978D >?D 25 1<G1IC @?CC92<5 ?<4CD59> 5D 1<  >51B2I
;>?G> @?@E<1D9?>C 81F5 255> D85?B9J54 1C D85 =?CD <9;5<I ?B979> 1C
CD1D54 6?B 455@C51 3?B1<C 7B?G9>7 ?>D? 121>4?>54 <?CD ?B ?D85BG9C5
49C31B454 ZC89>7 751B 9> D85 455@G1D5BC ?6 D85 )DB19D ?6
A. Santín et al. Marine Pollution Bulletin xxx (xxxx) xxx-xxx
Fig. 4.  )5F5B1< L. hypogea 9>49F94E1<C ?6 49665B5>D C9J5C 1<?>7C945 2BI?J?1>C 1>4 8I4B?94C  <?C5 E@ ?6 1> L. hypogea 9>49F94E1< =1B;54 1C Lh  9> 97  *85 2?4I 9C 6EC54 9>
1 C9>7<5 =1CC 1>4 8E>D9>7 Z<1=5>DC 31>>?D 25 49CD9>7E9C854  *G? 9>49F94E1<C ?6 L. hypogea 6EC54 D?75D85B 1C @B5F9?EC<I B5@?BD54 9> >?BD8 D<1>D93 @?@E<1D9?>C 85F1<4?>>O 5D 1<
  L. hypogea 2E4C  G9D8 1 2EDD?><9;5 1@@51B1>35 1>4 CD9<< 3?=@<5D5<I 1DD13854 D? D85 CE2CDB1D5 1>4 1 :EF5>9<5 : G8938 81C 1<B514I 45F5<?@54 1 B?E>49C8 2?4I C5@1B1D54 6B?=
D85 @<1CD93 2I 1 C8?BD CD1<; '93DEB5C 2I (E25> EBR BE25>C395>359>D?9=175C3?=
)939<I 1DD17<91 5D 1<  > D89C B571B4 D85 @B5C5>35 ?6 L. hypogea 9C
;>?G> 6B?= B535>D<I 49C3?F5B54 ?<4 -1D5B ?B1<C - 1D D85 <1>5C
31>I?> 8514 )1>DQ> 5D 1<  G8938 =978D 25 D85 =?CD<I <9;5<I
C?EB35 @?@E<1D9?> 6?B D85 ') @<1CD93 452B9C @?@E<1D9?> @B5C5>D54 9>
D89C CDE4I -89<5 1 <?D ?6 1DD5>D9?> 81C 255> @194 D? D85 B?<5 ?6 4B96D
9>7 <9DD5B 1C 1 @?D5>D91< 49C@5BC1< D??< 6?B >?>>1D9F5 C@5395C B57?BI
 <91>9 1>4 $?<31B4  )E1B91 1>4 <91>9  "95CC<9>7
5D 1<  <9DD<5 1DD5>D9?> 81C 255> @194 D? 9DC B?<5 9> D85 3?>>53
D9F9DI ?6 >?>9>F1C9F5 C@5395C 1B>5C 1>4 $9<>5B  ?<4CD59> 5D
1<  "95CC<9>7 5D 1<  5C@5391<<I 9> 455@C51 5>F9B?>=5>DC
1BD5B 1>4 B57?BI  )? 61B ?9< @<1D6?B=C 1B5 D85 =?CD 93?>93
1>D8B?@?75>93 455@C51 CDBE3DEB5C @B?F949>7 CE2CDB1D5 6?B 25>D893 D1H1
F1> <45> 5D 1<  )?==5B 5D 1<  9B385>?E78 1>4 57B15B
 5F5> 9> ?D85BG9C5 E>61F?B12<5 5>F9B?>=5>DC B954<1>45B 5D 1<
 1>4 13D9>7 1C CD5@@9>7 CD?>5C 6?B ?B71>9C=C 49C@5BC1< 1>4 3?>
>53D9F9DI 25DG55> @?@E<1D9?>C )1==1B3? 5D 1<  41=C 5D 1<
 F1> 45B $?<5> 5D 1<  > D89C C5>C5 C@?>75 <1BF15 1B5 75>
5B1<<I C55> 1C @??B CG9==5BC #1>>1 1>4 (95C7?  G9D8 <9DD<5 49C
@5BC1< 31@129<9D95C +B9J 5D 1<  5F5> 1D 1 <?31< C31<5 +B9J 5D 1<
 -89<5 D85 ') @<1CD93 452B9C E@?> G8938 D85 C@?>75C G5B5 1D
D13854 G1C CD1D9?>1BI 1D D85 D9=5 5>D1>7<54 B?@5C 1>4 ZC89>7 <9>5C
1B5 ;>?G> D? 2B51; @5B9?4931<<I 4E5 D? G51B9>7 G8938 =978D C5D 6B55
1>I 2E?I1>D @9535C 1DD17<91 5D 1<  $1B9>5 <9DD5B 9C ;>?G> D?
25 @5BC9CD5>D 9> D9=5 1>4 96 2E?I1>D 9D 31> 25 DB1>C@?BD54 ?F5B 7B51D
49CD1>35C "95CC<9>7 5D 1<  E<D9=1D5<I 13D9>7 1C 1 =1:?B 49C@5B
C1< F53D?B 6?B 2?D8 9>F1C9F5 1>4 >?>9>F1C9F5 C@5395C 89D3889;9>7 ?>
CEB6135[?1D9>7 <9DD5B <91>9 1>4 $?<31B4  1B>5C 1>4 $9<>5B
 B57?BI  ?<4CD59> 5D 1<  %5F5BD85<5CC 9D 9C 1<C?
G?BD8 >?D9>7 D81D >?>2E?I1>D =1B9>5 <9DD5B 9C 1<C? CE2:53D54 D? DB1>C
@?BD @B?35CC5C 5C@5391<<I 9> 31>I?>C )38<9>9>7 5D 1<  &<9F59B1 5D
1<  G85B5 C549=5>D1BI DB1>C@?BD @B?35CC5C 1>4 9>D5>C5 2?DD?=
3EBB5>DC 31BBI =1B9>5 <9DD5B 13B?CC D85 455@C51 [??B )38<9>9>7 5D 1<
 '81= 5D 1<  &<9F59B1 5D 1<  '95B4?=5>93? 5D 1<
 C CE38 G89<5 D85 @?D5>D91< 56653D ?6 2E?I1>D 452B9C ?> 25>D893
?B71>9C=C 3?>>53D9F9DI =978D 25 =?B5 F9C92<5 5C@5391<<I 9> C81<<?G 1B
51C B57?BI  "95CC<9>7 5D 1<  9> 455@C51 53?CICD5=C 1>4
@1BD93E<1B<I 31>I?>C 2?D8 2E?I1>D 1>4 >?>2E?I1>D 452B9C 3?E<4 81F5
1 C9=9<1B @?D5>D91< E>49C3<?C54 B?<5 9> D85 3?>>53D9F9DI 1>4 49C@5BC9?> ?6
455@C51 25>D893 ?B71>9C=C G9D8 @1D38I 49CDB92ED9?>C 1C 9C D85 31C5 6?B
L. hypogea
> D89C B571B4 G89<5 =?CD<I 13;>?G<54754 1C @5B>939?EC 6?B 25>D893
?B71>9C=C <?F5B 1>4 )=9D8  (I1>  =1B9>5 <9DD5B 81C 1<C?
255> ?2C5BF54 D? 13D 1C 1 CE2CDB1D5 6?B 25>D893 D1H1 '135 5D 1< 
B57?BI  &<9F59B1 5D 1<  G9D8 D85 @?D5>D91< D? @1B14?H9
31<<I 9>3B51C5 29?49F5BC9DI 9> 9=@13D54 1B51C 4E5 D? 1> 9>3B51C5 9> 8129
D1D 85D5B?75>59DI "1DC1>5F1;9C 5D 1<  '135 5D 1<  $?B5
?F5B C?=5 D1H1 <1BF15 81F5 255> C8?G> D? @B565B5>D91<<I C5DD<5 ?> 1>
D8B?@?75>93 CE2CDB1D5 B1D85B D81> >1DEB1< ?>5C G8938 3?E<4 DB1>C<1D5
9>D? 1> 5><1B75=5>D ?6 D85 49CDB92ED9?> 1B51 6?B C194 C@5395C 1BD5B
1>4 B57?BI  ?<CD 1>4 !1B=C  C CE38 D85 E>5H@53D54
8978 45>C9DI ?6 L. hypogea 31  9>43= B5@?BD54 85B5 1DD13854 D?
') @<1CD93 452B9C 3?E<4 9=@<I D81D =1B9>5 <9DD5B =978D 25 1 61F?B12<5
CE2CDB1D5 6?B D859B C5DD<5=5>D 1>4 CEBF9F1< 9> 35BD19> 3?>49D9?>C %5F
5BD85<5CC CE38 1 B?<5 G?E<4 25 8978<I 45@5>45>D ?> D85 129<9DI ?6 1
79F5> D1H1 D? CECD19> 9DC5<6 9> 1> ?D85BG9C5 8?CD9<5 >EDB95>D<5CC CE2
CDB1D1 "95CC<9>7 5D 1<  > D89C CDE4I  9>49F94E1<C ?6 L. hy-
pogea 3?E<4 25 ?2C5BF54 1DD13854 D? B1D85B <9=9D54C9J5 CE2CDB1DE= 31
3= *89C 9C >?D5G?BD8I 1C D85 C@5395C ECE1<<I 81C <?G 45>C9D95C
5F5> 9> CD12<5 @?@E<1D9?>C 31  9>43= 85F1<4?>>O 5D 1< 
G9D8 ?><I ?>5 ?D85B B5@?BD ?6 1 =1CC9F5 ?33EBB5>35 ?6 L. hypogea 1D 1
A. Santín et al. Marine Pollution Bulletin xxx (xxxx) xxx-xxx
Fig. 5. )385=1D93 B5@B5C5>D1D9?> ?6 L. hypogea C@93E<5 C5D  )DI<5  5D19< ?6 D85
DI<5 ?6 D85 CE2DI<?CDI<5C  >9C?385<15 )385=5C G5B5 4979D1<<I @B?4E354 2I  *B12?>9
C=1<< C31<5 G9D8  9>49F94 E1<C 1CC?391D54 G9D8 3?B1< BE22<5  3=
9> D85 E<6 ?6 149J )9D:L 5D 1<  449D9?>1<<I D85 C9J5CDBE3DEB5
?6 D85 @?@E<1D9?> G1C >?>C;5G54 1>4 G5<<49CDB92ED54 259>7 4?=9
>1D54 2I =549E=C9J54 9>49F94E1<C  3= 97  G8938 3?BB5C@?>4C
G9D8 G5<<5CD12<9C854 @?@E<1D9?>C EBD85B=?B5 2?D8 2E4C 1>4 :EF5
>9<531  3= C@?>75C 3?E<4 25 945>D9Z54 97  CE775CD9>7 D85
@?@E<1D9?> 3?E<4 25 B5@B?4E3D9F5 C CE38 D85 8978 45>C9DI ?6 L. hy-
pogea B53?B454 85B5 3?E<4 B5C@?>4 D? 1> 9>9D91< CD?381CD93 3?<?>9J1D9?>
G9D8 :ECD 1 65G ?B C5F5B1< <1BF15 C5DD<9>7 ?> D85 ') @<1CD93 CDB1>4 G9D8
1 @?CD5B9?B C5HE1< ?B 1C5HE1< B5@B?4E3D9?> G8938 G?E<4 B5CE<D 9> D85 ?2
C5BF54 C9J5CDBE3DEB5 49CDB92ED9?> %5F5BD85<5CC D85 3?<?>9J1D9?> ?6 <9D
D5B 2I 25>D893 61E>1 C55=C D? 25 CE2:53D54 D? 1 =IB914 ?6 613D?BC B1D85B
D81> B1>4?= @B?35CC5C B1>79>7 6B?= D85 C@5395C ?G> 29?<?7I D? D859B
2581F9?B 9> B5<1D9?> D? C@135 1>4 <9DD5B AE1<9DI -1<;5B  EBD85B
=?B5 1C =1B9>5 452B9C @B?F945 >? >EDB95>D C?EB35 D85 129<9DI 6?B 6??4
13AE9C9D9?> 9C ?>5 ?6 D85 ;5I 5<5=5>DC 9> 45D5B=9>9>7 D85 CE335CC6E< 3?<
?>9J1D9?> ?> =1B9>5 452B9C "95CC<9>7 5D 1<  > D89C C5>C5 D85 >I
<?> B?@5 CEC@5>454 1@@B?H9=1D5<I  = 12?F5 D85 C51 [??B =978D 81F5
@B?F9454 31B>9F?B?EC C@?>75C G9D8 1335CC D? G1D5B =1CC5C 5H@?C54 D?
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A. Santín et al. Marine Pollution Bulletin xxx (xxxx) xxx-xxx
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Uncited reference
(549* 1ED8?BC89@ 3?>DB92ED9?> CD1D5=5>D
A. Santín: ?>35@DE1<9J1D9?> ?B=1< 1>1<IC9C -B9D9>7  ?B979>1< 4B16D
-B9D9>7  B5F95G  549D9>7 ,9CE1<9J1D9?> J. Grinyó: (5C?EB35C
-B9D9>7  ?B979>1< 4B16D -B9D9>7  B5F95G  549D9>7 )E@5BF9C9?> M.
Bilan: (5C?EB35C -B9D9>7  B5F95G  549D9>7 S. Ambroso: (5C?EB35C
-B9D9>7  B5F95G  549D9>7 ,9CE1<9J1D9?> P. Puig: (5C?EB35C -B9D9>7 
B5F95G  549D9>7 )E@5BF9C9?> 'B?:53D 14=9>9CDB1D9?> E>49>7
Declaration of competing interest
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... Three deep-waterÀprotected species, the corals Errina aspera (L., 1767), Desmophyllum pertusum (L., 1758), and M. oculata, and the cirripede crustacean Pachylasma giganteum (Philippi, 1836) were found colonizing rafting floats from abandoned, lost or derelict fishing gears in the Strait of Messina, central Mediterranean Sea (Battaglia et al., 2019). The protected sponges Lycopodina hypogea (Vacelet and Boury-Esnault, 1996) were reported to colonized plastic debris from the Blanes canyon, in the northwestern Mediterranean Sea (Santín et al., 2020). Those unusual findings suggested that plastic debris might have, to a certain extent, a yet undisclosed role for native deep-sea organisms' dispersion and connectivity, the magnitude of which is currently unknown (Santín et al., 2020). ...
... The protected sponges Lycopodina hypogea (Vacelet and Boury-Esnault, 1996) were reported to colonized plastic debris from the Blanes canyon, in the northwestern Mediterranean Sea (Santín et al., 2020). Those unusual findings suggested that plastic debris might have, to a certain extent, a yet undisclosed role for native deep-sea organisms' dispersion and connectivity, the magnitude of which is currently unknown (Santín et al., 2020). ...
Huge amounts of plastic debris, both macro and microscopic sizes, float in marine environment and, currently, plastic contamination is widely assumed as an emerging threat to marine ecosystems. To better elucidate its implications on marine habitats, marine food webs and human health, there is an urgent need to study and understand its distribution, behaviour and the way it interacts with biota. In addition, knowledge about the drivers affecting the bioavailability of plastics to organisms, as well as their potential toxicological and ecological effects, is still limited. While several field studies showed that Mediterranean Sea is strongly affected by plastic contaminants and resident organisms could ingest and interact with them on a daily basis, less information are available regarding toxicity in wild organisms. Furthermore, laboratory trials have shown that microplastics can cause mild but adverse effects due to physical and chemical impacts (i.e. physical disturbance and release of additives and/or chemicals adsorbed from the environment). Despite the concerns raised by this evidence, the effects of microplastic ingestion in natural populations and the impacts on food webs are far from being completely understood. This chapter summarizes the available knowledge for Mediterranean benthic species, from both field and laboratory studies, and provides an overview of the presence and impact of plastics and microplastics in the marine environment, addressing the issue from the organism to the community level. The lack of knowledge on the role of chemical and morphological features of particles in modulating ingestion/egestion rates, toxicological effects, capability to adsorb pollutants and/or release additives, as well as information on biological variables that may modulate ingestion phenomena, require special attention from researchers, to fully evaluate the ecological consequences of plastic pollution.
... For example, the three species of iconic giant barrel sponges in the genus Xestospongia, while genetically and morphologically similar, are geographically and reproductively separate species found in three separate oceans with no known steppingstones between the Pacific and Atlantic (Setiawan et al. 2016). However, there is potential for sponge species to spread due to human influence including larval settlement on human-made structures such as buoys (Lim et al. 2009) and marine debris (Santín et al. 2020), and introduced accidentally with intentional species imports (Harbo et al. 2021). Recently, two non-native sponge species were found growing on the hull of a boat in the Atlantic (Ribeiro et al. 2022), suggesting that mobile human-made structures can be vectors of species dispersal across oceans, though human-mediated dispersal is less likely for deep-water species. ...
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Mycale (Mycale) loveni (Fristedt, 1887) is a very large structure-forming sponge that has previously been reported in the North Pacific, North Atlantic, and Arctic oceans. Through morphological and molecular examination, North Atlantic and Eastern Canadian Arctic specimens are now described as a new species, Mycale (Mycale) lorea sp. nov. The two species have similar external morphology; however, the spicules that make up their skeletons differ in size and shape, and the species are also separated phylogenetically by multiple genetic markers.
... Canyons distribution and classification after Harris and Whiteway, 2011. accidentally collected in canyons during sampling for other purposes was analyzed to assess colonization of benthic organisms (Aymà et al., 2019;Santıń et al., 2020). ...
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Marine litter is one of the most pervasive and fast-growing aspects of contamination in the global ocean, and has been observed in every environmental setting, including the deep seafloor where little is known about the magnitude and consequences of the problem. Submarine canyons, the main conduits for the transport of sediment, organic matter and water masses from shallow to abyssal depths, have been claimed to be preferential pathways for litter transport and accumulation in the deep sea. This is supported by ongoing evidence of large litter piles at great water depths, highlighting efficient transfer via canyons. The aim of this article is to present an overview of the current knowledge about marine litter in submarine canyons, taking a geological, process-based point of view. We evaluate sources, transport mechanisms and deposition of litter within canyons to assess the main factors responsible for its transport and accumulation in the deep sea. Few studies relate litter distribution to transport and depositional processes; nevertheless, results from available literature show that canyons represent accumulation areas for both land-based and maritime-based litter. Particularly, accumulation of fishing-related debris is mainly observed at the canyon heads and walls and is related to fishing activities carried out in and adjacent to canyons, while transport and accumulation of general waste and plastic along canyon axes can be related to different mechanisms, encompassing enhanced bottom currents, dense water cascading and turbidity currents, and is related to the proximity of canyons to shore. Global assessment of canyons exposure to riverine plastic inputs and fishing-related debris indicates varying susceptibility of canyons to litter, also highlighting that most of the canyons prone to receive large amounts of anthropogenic debris have not yet been surveyed. Considering that litter research in canyons is still in its infancy, several knowledge gaps need to be filled before the role of canyons as litter traps and the implication for benthic ecosystems can be fully understood.
... Marine litter have a widespread presence on deep waters down to the hadal depths (Miyake, Shibata, & Furushima, 2011), being also the entanglement of sessile erect species (e.g., those forming coral gardens) by lost or discarded fishing gear (causing tissue abrasion, branch breaking, etc.) the most frequent impact (Fig. 6.6; Angiolillo & Fortibuoni, 2020). However the real extent of the interactions between debris and deep-sea fauna and its effects is still poorly understood (Gregory, 2009;Santín, Grinyó, Bilan, Ambroso, & Puig, 2020). ...
n this chapter, we will mainly focus on some of the most relevant low-light habitats among those found along the continental shelf and margins, including habitats which receive multiple human-induced disturbances, unique and scarcely known assemblages (e.g., brachiopod beds), as well as those for which we have relatively better ecological knowledge (e.g., marine caves, coralligenous outcrops and maërl beds, cold water corals, among others). These hab- itats are characterized by a wide variety of faunistic compositions and traits. Nevertheless, all of them have in com- mon their low-light conditions and are difficult for humans to access, therefore being almost unexplored until recent times. We will highlight how modern sampling techniques have improved our understanding of such habitats, their main characteristics and ecological relevance, major threats and the efficiency of the management, conservation, and restoration strategies (if any) carried out to date.
... Marine litter have a widespread presence on deep waters down to the hadal depths (Miyake, Shibata, & Furushima, 2011), being also the entanglement of sessile erect species (e.g., those forming coral gardens) by lost or discarded fishing gear (causing tissue abrasion, branch breaking, etc.) the most frequent impact (Fig. 6.6; Angiolillo & Fortibuoni, 2020). However the real extent of the interactions between debris and deep-sea fauna and its effects is still poorly understood (Gregory, 2009;Santín, Grinyó, Bilan, Ambroso, & Puig, 2020). ...
n this chapter, we will mainly focus on some of the most relevant low-light habitats among those found along the continental shelf and margins, including habitats which receive multiple human-induced disturbances, unique and scarcely known assemblages (e.g., brachiopod beds), as well as those for which we have relatively better ecological knowledge (e.g., marine caves, coralligenous outcrops and maërl beds, cold water corals, among others). These hab- itats are characterized by a wide variety of faunistic compositions and traits. Nevertheless, all of them have in com- mon their low-light conditions and are difficult for humans to access, therefore being almost unexplored until recent times. We will highlight how modern sampling techniques have improved our understanding of such habitats, their main characteristics and ecological relevance, major threats and the efficiency of the management, conservation, and restoration strategies (if any) carried out to date.
... Litter colonization by fouling organisms is a widely acknowledged phenomenon worldwide and even in the Mediterranean Sea, with several studies reporting in the last decade the occurrence of variegate communities (Gündogdu et al., 2017;Crocetta et al., 2020;Mancini et al., 2021;Subías-Baratau et al., 2022;Virgili et al., 2022). In addition, specific communications also recorded rare, protected, or even habitatforming species colonizing sea-based litter items, such as the sponge Lycopodina hypogea (Vacelet & Boury-Esnault, 1996) or the corals Corallium rubrum (Linnaeus, 1758), Desmophyllum dianthus (Esper, 1794) and Desmophyllum pertusum (Linnaeus, 1758), Errina aspera (Linnaeus, 1767), and Madrepora oculata Linnaeus, 1758 (Battaglia et al., 2019;Santín et al., 2020;Bergami et al., 2021;Carugati et al., 2021). All this generally led to the idea that benthic litter has a boosting effect on benthic communities, supplying additional tridimensional habitats for invertebrate settlement and colonization especially in flat and homogeneous bottoms (Goldberg, 1994;Williams et al., 2005;Crocetta et al., 2020;Song et al., 2021). ...
Seafloor pollution by benthic litter is an emerging phenomenon, although debris colonization by biota remains largely unexplored. We characterized the litter of the continental slope (~400-600 m) of the Gulf of Naples (Mediterranean) and investigated its fouling biota through integrative taxonomic approaches. Plastic pieces (82 %) with land-based origin (96 %) and limited sizes (10-20 cm) were the items most commonly encountered, suggesting a transfer to deep waters through floating and sinking. The majority of the items were not fouled, and the debris hosted an impoverished biota, leading to hypothesize that benthic litter supports wide communities only in shallow waters. Higher colonization rates were observed for gastropod and cephalopod eggs with no preference for materials and sizes, suggesting that even small pieces of soft plastic provide a spawning habitat for molluscs and affect species' connectivity in the deep-sea ecosystem. Holistic approaches are necessary to evaluate interactions between litter and biota.
... The present result corroborates with an earlier study on A. marmorata cultured in recirculating aquaculture tanks for 71 days, where crude protein content increases (p > 0.05) with an increment in stocking density 63 . The muscle pH is an important flesh quality parameter and under stressful conditions, fishes produce low pH muscle 11,88,89 . In the present study, lower pH was exhibited in higher densities. ...
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The present study was conducted for 240 days to evaluate the effects of stocking density based on growth attributes, digestive enzymes, muscular composition, biochemical and physiological responses of Labeo rohita fingerlings in tropical inland open water cages. L. rohita (30.35 ± 1.08 g) were randomly distributed into three treatments, namely low stocking density, LSD (10 m−3), medium stocking density, MSD (20 m−3) and high stocking density, HSD (30 m−3) in triplicates. Fish were fed twice daily with CIFRI CAGEGROW® floating feed (crude protein-28%, crude fat-4%). Fish growth and feed efficiency were higher (p < 0.05) in LSD, however, MSD registered a higher yield. Amylase and protease activity reduced whereas lipase activity increased with increasing stocking density. Muscle crude protein and crude fat formed an inverse correlation. The fillet quality deteriorated at higher stocking densities based on Muscle pH, drip loss and frozen leakage rate. The stress biomarkers level (glucose, cortisol, superoxide dismutase and catalase) increased in serum under crowding conditions. Glutamate oxaloacetate transaminase and glutamate pyruvate transaminase in serum were significantly increased in HSD. Serum protein levels decreased with the increase in stocking densities. Body ionic imbalance (Na+, Cl− and K+) was observed under crowding stress. Based on growth attributes and multiple biomarker responses, L. rohita @ 10 m−3 was found to be the optimum density for inland open water cage culture.
... Interactions of marine fauna with litter are widely documented and include ingestion (Brandão et al., 2011;De Stephanis et al., 2013;Rizzi et al., 2019), entanglement (Barreiros and Raykov, 2014;Moore et al., 2013;Wegner and Cartamil, 2012) and habitat change (O'Hanlon et al., 2019;Smith, 2012;Uhrin and Schellinger, 2011). Additionally, litter can be used as substrate for colonization by sessile organisms (Lacerda et al., 2020;Santín et al., 2020), and as shelter for a variety of mobile organisms such as hermit crabs, sea urchins and cephalopods (Barreiros and Luiz, 2009;Barros et al., 2020;Heery et al., 2018). Some animals have also been recorded actively covering their bodies with materialsincluding litterpresent in the environment for protection. ...
Benthic octopuses have been widely documented in artificial shelters for decades, and this use is apparently increasing. Despite any possible positive effects, the use of litter as shelter could have negative implications. In this work, we aimed to elucidate the interactions of octopuses with marine litter, identifying types of interactions and affected species and regions. To achieve this, we obtained 261 underwater images from ‘citizen science’ records, and identified 8 genera and 24 species of benthic octopuses interacting with litter. Glass objects were present in 41.6% of interactions, and plastic in 24.7%. Asia presented the highest number of images, and most records were from 2018 to 2021. Citizen science provided important evidence on octopus/marine litter interactions, highlighting its value and the need for more investigations on the subject. This information is fundamental to help prevent and mitigate the impacts of litter on octopuses, and identify knowledge gaps that require attention.
... In contrast, an increase in the number of species in littered soft bottom areas was demonstrated by Katsanevakis et al. (2007) and Song et al. (2021). The increase of species richness was found to be caused by the litter, which provided refuge for mobile species and substrate for sessile species (Katsanevakis et al., 2007;Clemente et al., 2018;Santín et al., 2020). However, a shift in species composition cannot be considered as a positive effect of marine litter on biota, as it affects the structure and functioning of the whole community (Kiessling et al., 2015). ...
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Coastal regions are biologically active areas with significant ecological and socioeconomic values. These regions are increasingly being affected by marine litter. The impact of macro-sized marine litter on biomass and net primary production of hard and soft bottom communities was investigated by using a manipulative field experiment. Plastic bags were used to mimic the disturbance caused by litter to benthic vegetation and fauna. The experiment was carried out on a soft substrate community dominated by sago pondweed Stuckenia pectinata (L.) Boerner and bladder wrack Fucus vesiculosus L. as a foundation species of a hard substrate. A rapid negative impact of the plastic bag cover on vegetation biomass of soft-bottom community was detected, while the impact on the biomass of hard bottom vegetation was non-significant. Plastic bag cover substantially reduced the net production rates of hard substrate species Fucus and the biomass of associated zoobenthos. The difference in net production rates of Stuckenia with and without plastic cover was negligible.
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Marine litter has had a huge impact on the marine environment and the socio-economic activities that depend on healthy oceans. All members of the community must play their part to address marine litter. Teachers are agents of change that are capable of encouraging pro-environmental practices among the community that will reduce environmental issues, including marine litter. However, teachers were found to have limited knowledge regarding ocean literacy and marine pollution. A scoping review was conducted to identify various aspects of content knowledge related to marine litter education that has been recently conducted for school teachers and students. Web of Science, Scopus and ERIC databases were searched for articles published in English between 2015 and 8 July 2021. Fourteen peer-reviewed articles were selected for this study and were subjected to content analysis. Topics related to marine litter were frequently addressed. Meanwhile, topics related to teaching Environmental Education/Education for Sustainable Development (EE/ESD) were the least addressed. Benthic marine litter, solutions to marine litter and the introduction of new types of marine litter were identified as topics that need to be addressed in future marine litter education. This study lists content knowledge based on previous literature and identified the gaps, which will be useful for teachers to improve their knowledge and implement effective marine litter education in school.
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The blue growth agenda has spurred an accelerating exploitation and continued development of the coastal and marine environment. This is also driven by the increasing need to generate renewable energy. In most cases, this has resulted in a large number of man-made structures (MMSs) across several soft sediment environments. The nature of these structures ranges from oil and gas installations to harbour walls, anchored buoys, pipelines and offshore wind farms. These structures host fouling communities that are often new to offshore regions, potentially serving as stepping stones for range-expanding (non-indigenous) species and providing habitat and shelter for a variety of marine species. The altered local biodiversity also affects biological and biogeochemical processes from the water column to the seafloor, either directly (e.g. scouring, organic matter export from piles) or indirectly (e.g. closure or displacement of fisheries) and, hence, ecosystem functioning at various spatial and temporal scales. A proper understanding of the effects of artificial hard substrate and the consequences of its removal (e.g. through decommissioning) to marine biodiversity has yet to develop to maturity. This themed article set contributes to the scientific knowledge base on the impacts of MMSs on marine ecosystems with the specific aim to fertilize and facilitate an evidence-based debate over decommissioning. This discussion will become ever more vital to inform marine spatial planning and future policy decisions on the use and protection of marine resources
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Offshore oil and gas platforms are found on continental shelves throughout the world’s oceans. Over the course of their decades-long life-spans, these platforms become ecologically important artificial reefs, supporting a variety of marine life. When offshore platforms are no longer active they are decommissioned, which usually requires the removal of the entire platform from the marine environment, destroying the artificial reef that has been created and potentially resulting in the loss of important ecosystem services. While some countries allow for these platforms to be converted into artificial reefs under Rigs-to-Reefs programs, they face significant resistance from various stakeholders. The presence of offshore platforms and the associated marine life alters the ecosystem from that which existed prior to the installation of the platform, and there may be factors which make restoration of the ecosystem unfeasible or even detrimental to the environment. In these cases, a novel ecosystem has emerged with potentially significant ecological value. In restoration ecology, ecosystems altered in this way can be classified and managed using the novel ecosystems concept, which recognizes the value of the new ecosystem functions and services and allows for the ecosystem to be managed in its novel state, instead of being restored. Offshore platforms can be assessed under the novel ecosystems concept using existing decommissioning decision analysis models as a base. With thousands of platforms to be decommissioned around the world in coming decades, the novel ecosystems concept provides a mechanism for recognizing the ecological role played by offshore platforms.
Conference Paper
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Knowledge about sponges inhabiting cold-water coral reefs in the Atlanto-Mediterranean region has steadily increased in the past years, yet our knowledge about their diversity is still scarce. In the present work, we describe the sponge diversity associated with Madrepora oculata Linnaeus, 1758. Several fragments of this coral from the Blanes Canyon (Catalan Sea) at a depth of ca. 700m were examined, without discarding small cryptic individuals. This has allowed the recovery of poorly known or likely new species belonging to the classes Demospongiae, Hexactinellida and Calcarea. Taxonomic discussions are included.
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Marine litter is an emerging environmental threat affecting all world’s oceans including the deep seafloor, where the extent of the phenomenon is still largely unknown. We report the spatial patterns of macro-litter distribution within the Messina Strait’s channels (Central Mediterranean), focusing on the transfer mechanisms responsible for its emplacement, a key information to better understand litter distribution. Litter is patchy but pervasive on all surveyed channels, reaching densities up to ~200 items/10 m, the highest reported for the deep sea until now. Litter is often arranged in large accumulations formed by hundreds of land-sourced items, mixed to vegetal and coarse-grained debris, indicating an emplacement from sedimentary gravity flows. Such impressive amount of litter can be explained by the superposition of a very efficient source-to-sink sedimentary transport and a strong urbanization of the coastal area. These findings point out that macro-benthic litter pollution is a major, often overlooked, threat for deep-sea ecosystems. Further explorations are thus required in similar marine settings to fully understand the magnitude of the problem, since they may represent the largest litter hotspots in the deep-sea.
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Man-made structures including rigs, pipelines, cables, renewable energy devices, and ship wrecks, offer hard substrate in the largely soft-sediment environment of the North Sea. These structures become colonised by sedentary organisms and non-migratory reef fish, and form local ecosystems that attract larger predators including seals, birds, and fish. It is possible that these structures form a system of interconnected reef environments through the planktonic dispersal of the pelagic stages of organisms by ocean currents. Changes to the overall arrangement of hard substrate areas through removal or addition of individual man-made structures will affect the interconnectivity and could impact on the ecosystem. Here, we assessed the connectivity of sectors with oil and gas structures, wind farms, wrecks, and natural hard substrate, using a model that simulates the drift of planktonic stages of seven organisms with sedentary adult stages associated with hard substrate, applied to the period 2001-2010. Connectivity was assessed using a classification system designed to address the function of sectors in the network. Results showed a relatively stable overall spatial distribution of sector function but with distinct variations between species and years. The results are discussed in the context of decommissioning of oil and gas infrastructure in the North Sea.
Spain), a region of confluence between the Atlantic and Mediterranean, with intense maritime traffic. Several geological features, such as canyons, open slopes and contourite furrows and channels, were surveyed by remotely operated vehicle (ROV) observations between depths of 220 and 1000 m. Marine litter was quantified by grouping the observations into six categories. Our results indicate the presence of markedly different habitats in which a complex collection of different types of litter accumulate in relation to bottom current flows and maritime and fishing routes. This result justifies a seascape approach in further anthropogenic impact studies within deep-sea areas.
Sponge larvae do not swim that fast: a reply to Montgomery et al. (2019) - Emilio Lanna, Ana Riesgo
The distribution of floating litter in marine waters, influenced by currents and wind drag, often determines the dispersal of its encrusting fauna. In the present paper, we observed for the first time the colonization of rafting floats from abandoned, lost or derelict fishing gears (ALDFG) by the four protected deep-sea species: Errina aspera, Desmophyllum pertusum, Madrepora oculata Pachylasma giganteum. Overall, 41 floats, colonized by deep benthic species, were found stranded on the shore of the Sicilian coast of the Strait of Messina, between 2016 and 2019. Species composition, number and occurrence of colonizing organisms were analyzed. On the basis of the species composition (the association between E. aspera, P. giganteum and Megabalanus tulipiformis), the knowledge on their ecology, biogeography, path of local currents, it was possible to define that the area of origin of the most part of these fishing net floats was the Strait of Messina
Nowadays, there is still a huge lack of knowledge regarding the morphology and size structure of sponge populations and their possible ecological implications. This study assesses, by means of quantitative analyses of video transects and morphometric analyses on still photographs, the geographical, bathymetrical and sizestructure distribution of the most relevant habitat-forming sponge species on the continental shelf and the upper slope of the Menorca Channel, an area soon to be declared a Marine Protected Area (MPA) as part of the Natura 2000 Network. Additionally, the influence of seafloor variables on the observed distribution patterns was evaluated. Highest sponge densities and abundances were concentrated in areas of high hydrodynamism, namely the rocky shoals offshore Cap Formentor and the Menorca Canyon’s head. Most of the studied species were dominated by small to medium size classes, suggesting pulse recruitment events. A clear depth-zonation pattern has been observed, going from the inner continental shelf to the upper slope. At the same time, the continental shelf harbored the presence of diverse and contrasting growth morphologies, yet the biggest forms occurred at the shelf edge and the upper slope. This study highlights the presence of dense, well-preserved sponge populations in the Menorca Channel, and provides a baseline for their future monitoring once the MPA is declared, potentially serving as reference for other areas across the Atlanto-Mediterranean region.
Thousands of offshore oil and gas structures are approaching the end of their operating life globally, yet our understanding of the environmental effects of different decommissioning strategies is incomplete. Past focus on a narrow set of criteria has limited evaluation of decommissioning effects, restricting decommissioning options in most regions. We broadly review the environmental effects of decommissioning, analyse case studies, and outline analytical approaches that can advance our understanding of ecological dynamics on oil and gas structures. We find that ecosystem functions and services increase with the age of the structure and vary with geographical setting, such that decommissioning decisions need to take an ecosystem approach that considers their broader habitat and biodiversity values. Alignment of decommissioning assessment priorities among regulators and how they are evaluated, will reduce the likelihood of variable and sub-optimal decommissioning decisions. Ultimately, the range of allowable decommissioning options must be expanded to optimise the environmental outcomes of decommissioning across the broad range of ecosystems in which platforms are located.