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Jackson Chu

Biological Patterns and Process of Glass Sponge Reefs

Jackson Chu
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A strong empirical foundation of knowledge is required before conservation, management, and policy efforts are successful. My research provides a quantitative baseline for ecosystem based management of the unique glass sponge reefs.

Sally P Leys

Biological Sciences, University of Alberta

09/2007 - 09/2010

Marine Biodiversity, MB-18: Pacific Coral and Sponge


I study the biology of glass sponges (Porifera, Hexactinellida).  On the coast of British Columbia Canada, hexactinellids are particularly diverse and form the world’s only glass sponge reefs.  City sized reefs, some 9,000 years old, are entirely built by only 3 species of hexactinellids.  With a multiscale, multi-technique approach, I examined the biological patterns and processes that define the glass sponge reef system. 

My specific project goals were to:

    1. Map the biological baseline of the glass sponges and their community of associated animals in 3 reefs in the Strait of Georgia.
    2. Determine if glass sponge reefs are significant sinks of silicon that are currently overlooked.
    3. Examine the stable isotope signature (carbon, nitrogen) between reef and non-reef sponge populations.


Glass sponge reefs create >700 km2 of complex benthic habitats for commercially important fish (e.g. Sebastes spp.) and crustaceans.  Focused research on the foundation species (sponges) furthers conservation efforts on the entire ecosystem of associated biota.


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