Evaluating sensitivity and resilience of glass sponges to environmental stressors
Industrial activities, like bottom trawling, can have negative impacts on Canada’s ancient deep-water sponge reefs. I focus on how sediments suspended by trawling induce behavioural changes in reef-building glass sponges. Glass sponges are unique in that they can completely arrest their pumping activities when they are disturbed. Although sponges lack nerves, the glass sponge arrest behaviour uses electrical signalling. We refer to this as the “Arrest Response Behaviour”. My work aims to understand this behaviour by determining at what sediment concentrations the arrests occur, how long the behaviour lasts and what effects sediments and the arrests of filtration themselves have on the sponges’ health. This work will ultimately inform policy makers about sediment-based impacts on the new Hecate Strait Sponge Reef Marine Protected Area.