The following is Emily's report summary.
Survey for the Presence of Freshwater Sponges in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park
Previously no records existed documenting the presence of freshwater sponges in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park (GSMNP). During 16 and 17 July, 2014 a preliminary survey for freshwater sponges was undertaken in the GSMNP.
Three sites on the Middle Prong Little River, 6 on Little Pigeon River, 1 site on the Oconoluftee River and 2 on Abrams Creek were searched for sponges. Sponges were collected only from the embayment where Abrams Creek enters Chilhowee Lake. Twelve very small sponges were collected at N35o 33’ 19.6” W83o 59’ 53.8” and N35o 33’ 19.4’ W83o 59’ 52.1”. Using the keys of Reiswig et al. (2010) sponges were identified as belonging to two species Trochospongilla horrida and Radiospongilla crateriformes. These two species are widely distributed within the eastern United States and, based on results of an on-going survey of Tennessee’s freshwater sponges, are relatively common in Tennessee.
This finding suggests that some promising locations to search during future surveys are where streams enter Fontana Lake on the North Carolina side of the GSMNP.
Why were sponges not found elsewhere within the park? Two possible reasons are 1) rivers and streams surveyed lack a food base capable of supporting sponge populations 2) sponges lack a mode of dispersing upstream from lower elevation sites.
Reiswig, H. M., T. M. Frost and A. Ricciardi. 2010. Chapter 4: Porifera in J. H. Thorp and A. P. Covich (eds), Ecology and Classification of North American Freshwater Invertebrates 3rd edition, Academic Press, Boston, MA.
Collectors List: CollectorList.pdf
Project Information: ProjectInfo.pdf
Samplings List: SamplingsList.pdf
Species Report: Taxonomy.pdf
Upper Taxa List: UpperTaxa.pdf
PI Name: Emily Stuart
PI Organization: Lincoln Memorial University
Co-PI Name: Dr. John Copeland
Co-PI Organization: Lincoln Memorial University
Taxonomist Name: Dr. John Copeland
Taxonomist Organization: Lincoln Memorial University