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Sponges: Porifera

Freshwater Sponge (spongilla Lacustris): Species Accounts

Physical characteristics: Freshwater sponges are crustlike, branched, or clumped. The texture is fragile and soft, and the color is whitish or green. Freshwater sponges have irregularly scattered and barely visible water-exit holes. The surface is uneven and roughened by spicules.


Geographic range: Freshwater sponges live in North America, Europe, and Asia.


Habitat: Freshwater sponges live in standing and running fresh water.


Diet: Freshwater sponges are filter feeders.


Behavior and reproduction: Scientists know little about how freshwater sponges behave. These sponges reproduce asexually by forming buds in late summer that spend the winter in a dormant state and emerge from the adult in the spring. Freshwater sponges reproduce sexually during the summer, giving birth to live larvae.

Freshwater sponges have irregularly scattered and barely visible water-exit holes. The surface is uneven and roughened by spicules. (Illustration by Michelle Meneghini. Reproduced by permission.)

Freshwater sponges and people: Freshwater sponges have no known importance to people. Some scientists believe they may be helpful as indicators of water pollution.


Conservation status: Freshwater sponges are not threatened or endangered. ∎


FOR MORE INFORMATION

Books:

Aaseng, Nathan. Invertebrates. New York: Venture, 1993.

Carson, Rachel. The Edge of the Sea. 1955. Reprint, Boston: Mariner, 1998.

Layman, Dale. Biology Demystified. New York: McGraw-Hill, 2003.

Niesen, Thomas M. The Marine Biology Coloring Book. 2nd ed. New York: HarperResource, 2000.

Wells, Sue, and Nick Hanna. The Greenpeace Book of Coral Reefs. New York: Sterling, 1992.


Web sites:

Hartman, Holly. "The Science of SpongeBob." Pearson Education Fact Monster. http://www.factmonster.com/spot/spongebobscience.html (accessed on January 20, 2005).

Hill, Malcolm S., and April L. Hill. "Freshwater Sponges as Indicators of Water Pollution: An Investigative Undergraduate Lab." Labstracts. http://www.zoo.utoronto.ca/able/news/fall2000/page2-f00.htm (accessed on January 21, 2005).

"Porifera Questions." OceanLink: Ask a Scientist, Answer Archive. http://oceanlink.island.net/ask/porifera.html#anchor92351 (accessed on January 21, 2005).

"Sponges." Sponge Reef Project. http://www.pgc.nrcan.gc.ca/marine/sponge/index_e.htm (accessed on January 21, 2005).

Additional topics

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