Clionid sponge surveys on the Florida Reef Tract suggest land-based nutrient inputs
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Bioerosion by Cliona delitrix and Cliona lampa was assessed at 43 sites along the Florida Reef Tract, USA, in the summer of 2001. Sponge abundances were estimated using rapid visual assessment. Tissue samples of sponges were taken for analysis of delta15N. Comparison samples were taken from Belize. Annual trends in sponge abundance were estimated from archived videos covering the period from 1996 to 2001. Sites with the greatest boring sponge size and cover were in the Backcountry and Lower Keys, where total nitrogen, ammonium, and delta15N levels were highest. The sites with the largest relative increase of C. delitrix and C. lampa over the 5 year period were in the Upper Keys, where the greatest relative decline in stony coral cover has occurred. Florida sponge delta15N values were 5.2(+/-0.1)%, suggesting the influence of human waste; in comparison, offshore Belize samples were 2.1(+/-0.1)%. These results suggest sewage contamination of the Florida Reef Tract, shifting the carbonate balance from construction to destruction.
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