Abstract As many as 500 species of sponges are estimated to occur in Caribbean reef habitats down to a depth of 120 m. Fully 90% of these belong to the Class Demospongiae,the rest are species of the Classes Calcarea and Sclerospongiae. The scarcity of siliceous sponge spicules in reef sediments may be related to the slow growth rate of many reef sponges as well as the rapid dissolution of spicules in the unsaturated waters above reefs. Excavating sponges of three families play a role in the erosional remodeling of reefs, and the particles excavated from calcareous skeletons and rocks by these sponges may make up as much as 30% of the sediments of reef environments. The massive aragonitic skeletons of sclerosponges contribute to the primary framework of the deep forereef and help strengthen and build out the walls of caves, tunnels, and crevices in shallower reef environments.
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Reefs and Related Carbonates—Ecology and Sedimentology
Studies in Geology 4: Reefs and Related Carbonates–Ecology and Sedimentology