The rise of sponges in the Anthropocene

Professor James Bell describes how marine sponges are likely to be one of the ‘winners’ as organisms adapt to anthropogenic changes to the climate and oceans.

June 2021

We have entered the Anthropocene, the geological period where human activity is the dominant influence on global climate and the environment. Environmental quality continues to decline in our oceans and not all organisms respond to anthropogenic stress in the same way, meaning some organisms may ultimately win out over others.

Professor James Bell from the School of Biological Sciences describes the evidence from two decades of research that supports marine sponges being one of the ‘winners’ in our changing environment and what this could mean for the way marine ecosystems function.

This is Professor Bell’s inaugural lecture as Professor of Biology at Te Herenga Waka—Victoria University of Wellington. Our public lecture series gives you the opportunity to engage with the latest thinking on the world’s major issues.

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Professors Ehsan Mesbahi, James Bell and Grant Guilford standing in front of a wooden doorway.
From left to right: Professor Ehsan Mesbahi, Pro-Vice Chancellor for the Wellington Faculties of Science, Engineering, Architecture and Design Innovation, Professor James Bell, School of Biological Science, and Vice-Chancellor Professor Grant Guilford.