Aspects of Sponge Biology by Frederick W. Harrison

By Frederick W. Harrison

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These habi­ tats are normally dry throughout the summer months. I have photographs of freshwater sponges in trees, for instance, in Catahoula Lake in Louisiana which is forty feet deep during the winter. In the summer you can drive around it in a jeep and collect sponges from the trees. Much of my summer col­ lecting is from dry roadside ditches which are overgrown with vegetation. One can walk along and scrape the freshwater sponge gemmules off the button bushes. These gemmules are highly resistant to desiccation.

Yet, such phenomena have not been investigated proper­ ly. HARRISON: Dr. Resh, in your work with predators on sponges, did you notice any relationship between predation and color preferences? RESH: No. There seemed to be situations involving patches of sponge where one would expect predators and find none, neither spongilla flies nor caddis flies. POIRRIER: I agree. I've worked with spongilla flies in freshwater sponges. Some of the freshwater sponges in acidic, highly colored swamp habitats can be of a very dark black color.

We have some flowing wells with constant temperatures where sponges are found which do not normally remain active during the winter in Louisiana. SIMPSON: You are impressed by the fact that in the gener­ alized picture there is some normalcy which, if you move away from, there can be some override of the response? 33 DISCUSSION TOPIC 6 POIRRIER: Right. Exactly. HARRISON: May I interject something here? There is one major ecological group of freshwater sponges which I consider the ephemerals. Examples are found in the Sonoran Desert and in the heart of Australia.

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