Teresa - Why study marine sponges?
I am marine ecologist, specialized in eco-physiology and feeding ecology of marine sponges. I have spent 3 years of my doctoral thesis basically underwater! I studied how different environmental parameters, such as temperature and food availability, affect the sponge metabolism in order to understand the causes of mass mortalities occurred during particular warm summers in the NW Mediterranean Sea.
I measured in situ what sponge eat, how much water they filter and how much they respire every three degrees of natural temperature changes, from 13°C (I was feeezing!) up to 22°C.
Why sponges? Sponges are usually underestimated, they play important functional roles in the ecosystem: they filter large volume of water (in one day they can filter the entire volume of water column at 20-40 m depth!) and they process nutrients making them available for other organisms.
So being a Marine Biologist is not always about whales, sharks and dolphins, also what is attached to the substrate is interesting!!! Read more about my work here.