Palatability and chemical defenses of sponges from the western Antarctic Peninsula

Academic Article


  • The present study surveyed the palatability of all sponge species that could be collected in sufficient quantities in a shallow-water area along the western Antarctic Peninsula. Of 27 species assayed, 78 % had outermost tissues that were significantly unpalatable to the sympatric, omnivorous sea star Odontaster validus. Of those species with unpalatable outer tissues, 62 % had inner tissues that were also unpalatable to the sea stars. Sea stars have often been considered as the primary predators of sponges in other regions of Antarctica, and their extra-oral mode of feeding threatens only the outermost sponge tissues. The observation that many of the sponges allocate defenses to inner tissues suggests the possibility that biting predators such as mesograzers, which could access inner sponge layers, may also be important in communities along the Antarctic Peninsula. In feeding bioassays with extracts from 12 of the unpalatable species in artificial foods, either lipophilic or hydrophilic extracts were deterrent in each species. These data indicate an overall level of chemical defenses in these Antarctic sponges that is comparable to, and slightly greater than, that found in a previous survey of tropical species. © Inter-Research 2009.
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    Digital Object Identifier (doi)

    Author List

  • Peters KJ; Amsler CD; McClintock JB; Van Soest RWM; Baker BJ
  • Start Page

  • 77
  • End Page

  • 85
  • Volume

  • 385