Sponges are rare in extreme environments, and very little is known about their adaptations to such settings. Evidence from two species in a marine-derived midwater stratified crater lake on Satonda Island (Sumbawa, Indonesia) suggests their production of gemmules (resting bodies), a rare trait in marine sponges but common in freshwater forms, may be a survival mechanism in the lake's harsh environment. With its epilimnion hydrochemistry—characterized by changing alkalinity, salinity, and O2 levels over the region's wet and dry seasons—the lake sustains only a few marine macroscopic organisms, among them the suberitid sponges Protosuberites lacustris comb. nov. and Suberites sp. (Hadromerida: Suberitida). Both species belong to the same group as sponges reported from other marine-derived lakes with strongly varying and extreme environmental (especially chemical) parameters. The morphological characters, taxonomic position, ecological adaptations, environmental conditions, and biota associated with the sponges in this ecologically unique site are presented here.
(Received February 26 2009)
(Accepted July 19 2009)
(Online publication November 03 2009)