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Department of Biological Science

at Florida State University

Biological Science Faculty Member

Dr. Janie L. Wulff

  • Office: 4075 King Life Sciences
  • Office: (850) 644-1565
  • Lab: King Life Sciences
  • Fax: (850) 645-8447
  • Mail code: 4295
  • E-mail:
Dr. Janie L. Wulff

Associate Professor
Ph.D., Yale University, 1986
Graduate Faculty Status

Research and Professional Interests:

"Caribbean Connections: Our Reefs" , a traveling educational outreach exhibit. Opening on 7 July 2008, at the 11th International Coral Reef Symposium, Ft. Lauderdale, FL.

Sponges are different from all other animals in the extreme simplicity and homogeneity of their construction. They are also one of the most diverse, abundant, and colorful groups in a variety of hard substratum marine systems, and many of their functional roles in these systems are not duplicated by members of other groups. I study the ecology of sponges and the organisms with which they interact as mutualistic partners, competitors, and prey, especially in coral reefs, seagrass meadows, and mangroves. I have been focusing on several conceptual issues that are especially intriguing for sponges: a) ecology and evolution of mutualisms; b) biogeographic and habitat patterns of diversity and abundance, and how these are influenced by interactions and life histories; and c) effects of physical disturbance and pathogens on population and community dynamics, focusing especially on the importance of different growth forms and life histories. My primary approaches to research are experimental manipulations in the field, combined with biogeographic comparisons; and most of my field work is in Belize, Panama, and the Florida Keys.

Selected Publications:

Wulff, J. 2012. Ecological interactions and the distribution, abundance, and diversity of sponges. Pages 273-344 in M. A. Becerro, ed. Advances in Sponge Science: Phylogeny, Systematics, Ecology. Advances in Marine Biology 61. Academic, Oxford. PDF

Wulff, J. 2011. Functional importance of biodiversity for coral reefs of Belize. Pages 52-56 in Palomares and Pauly, eds. Too Precious to Drill: The Marine Biodiversity of Belize. Fisheries Centre, University of British Columbia, Vancouver, B.C. PDF

Wulff, J. 2011. Sponges. In: D. Hopley, ed. Encyclopedia of Modern Coral Reefs: Structure, Form and Process. Springer, Dordrecht, New York.

Wulff, J. 2010. Regeneration of sponges in ecological context: is regeneration an integral part of life history and morphological strategies? Integrative and Comparative Biology 50:494-505. PDF

Wulff, J. L. 2009. Sponge community dynamics on Caribbean mangrove roots: significance of species idiosyncrasies. Pages 501-514 in Lang, M. A., I. G. Macintyre, and K. Rützler, eds. Proceedings of the Smithsonian Marine Science Symposium. Smithsonian Contributions to Marine Science 38. Smithsonian Institution, Washington, D.C. PDF

Wulff, J. L. 2008. Collaboration among sponge species increases sponge diversity and abundance in a seagrass meadow. Marine Ecology: An Evolutionary Perspective 29:193-204. PDF

Wulff, J. L. 2008. Life-history differences among coral reef sponges promote mutualism or exploitation of mutualism by influencing partner fidelity feedback. American Naturalist 171:597-609. PDF

Wulff, J. L. 2007. Disease prevalence and population density in three common Caribbean coral reef sponge species. Journal of the Marine Biological Association of the U.K. 87:715-720. PDF

Wulff, J.L. 2007. Mangrove sponge havens of Belize. JMBA Global Marine Environment 6:4-5. PDF

Swain, T. D., and J. L. Wulff. 2007. Diversity and specificity of Caribbean spongezoanthid symbioses: a foundation for understanding the adaptive significance of symbioses and generating hypothesesabout higher-order systematics. Biological Journal of the Linnean Society 92:695-711. PDF

Wulff, J. L. 2006. Sponge systematics by starfish: predators distinguish cryptic sympatric species of Caribbean fire sponges, Tedania ignis and Tedania klausi n. sp. (Demospongiae, Poecilosclerida). Biological Bulletin 211:83-94. PDF

Wulff, J. L. 2006. A simple model of growth form-dependent recovery from disease in coral reef sponges, and implications for monitoring. Coral Reefs 25:419-426. PDF

Lang, J. L., J. L. Wulff, C. R. Fretwell, and K. A. Roberson. 2006. Coral reef conservation through outreach education. Proceedings of the 10th International Coral Reef Symposium, Okinawa, pp. 1699-1702. PDF

Wulff, J. L. 2006. Resistance vs. recovery: morphological strategies of coral reef sponges. Functional Ecology 20:699-708. PDF

Wulff, J. L. 2006. Ecological interactions of marine sponges. Canadian Journal of Zoology Special Series 84:146-166. PDF

Wulff, J. L. 2006. Rapid diversity and abundance decline in a Caribbean coral reef sponge community. Biological Conservation 127:167-176. PDF

Wulff, J. L. 2005. Trade-offs in resistance to competitors and predators, and their effects on the diversity of tropical marine sponges. Journal of Animal Ecology 74:313-321. PDF

Wulff, J. L. 2004. Sponges on mangrove roots, Twin Cays, Belize: early stages of community assembly. Atoll Research Bulletin 519:1-10. PDF

Wulff, J. L. 2003. Biology of Coral Reefs: A Lecture Manual. Hayden McNeil, Plymouth, Michigan.

Wulff, J. L. 2002. Functional roles of sponges on coral reefs. Pages 38-40 in B. A. Best, R. S. Pomeroy, C. M. Balboa, eds. Implications for Coral Reef Management and Policy: Relevant Findings from the 9th International Coral Reef Symposium. USAID, Washington, D.C. PDF

Wulff, J. L. 2001. Assessing and monitoring coral reef sponges: Why and how? Bulletin of Marine Science 69:831-846. PDF

Wulff, J. L. 2000. Sponge predators may determine differences in sponge fauna between two sets of mangrove cays, Belize Barrier Reef. Atoll Research Bulletin 477:251-263. PDF

Rützler, K., M. C. Diaz, R. W. M. van Soest, K. P. Smith, B. Alvarez, S. Zea, and J. L. Wulff. 2000. Diversity of sponge fauna in mangrove ponds, Pelican Cays, Belize. Atoll Research Bulletin 476:231-248. PDF

Boury-Esnault, N., M. Klautau, C. Bezac, J. Wulff, and A. M. Sole-Cava. 1999. Comparative study of putative conspecific sponge populations from both sides of the Isthmus of Panama. Journal of the Marine Biological Association of the U.K. 79:39-50. PDF

Wulff, J. L. 1997. Causes and consequences of differences in sponge diversity and abundance between the Caribbean and eastern Pacific at Panama. Proceedings of the 8th International Coral Reef Symposium, Panama 2:1377-1382. PDF

Wulff, J. L. 1997. Parrotfish predation on cryptic sponges of Caribbean coral reefs. Marine Biology 129:41-52. PDF

Clifton, K. E., K. Kim, and J. L. Wulff. 1996. A Field Guide to the Reefs of Caribbean Panama, with an Emphasis on Western San Blas. Pages 167-183 in Proceedings of the 8th International Coral Reef Symposium, Panama.

Wulff, J. L. 1997. Mutualisms among species of coral reef sponges. Ecology 78:146-159. PDF

Wulff, J. L. 1996. Do the same sponge species live on both the Caribbean and eastern Pacific sides of the Isthmus of Panama? Bulletin of the Royal Belgian Institute for Natural Sciences 66:165-173. PDF

Wulff, J. L. 1995. Sponge-feeding by the Caribbean starfish Oreaster reticulatus. Marine Biology 123:313-325.

Wulff, J. L. 1995. Effects of a hurricane on survival and orientation of large, erect coral reef sponges. Coral Reefs 14:55-61. PDF

Wulff, J. L. 1994. Sponge feeding by Caribbean angelfishes, trunkfishes, and filefishes. Pages 265-271 in R. W. M. van Soest, T. M. G. van Kempen, and J.-C. Braekman, eds. Sponges in Time and Space: Biology, Chemistry, Paleontology. A.A. Balkema, Rotterdam. PDF

Wulff, J. L. 1991. Asexual fragmentation, genotype success, and population dynamics of erect branching sponges. Journal of Experimental Marine Biology and Ecology 149:227-247. PDF

Wulff, J. L. 1990. Patterns and processes of size change in Caribbean demosponges of branching morphology. In: R├╝tzler, K., ed. New Perspectives in Sponge Biology. Smithsonian Institution Press, Washington, D.C. PDF

Wulff, J. L. 1986. Variation in clone structure of fragmenting coral reef sponges. Biological Journal of the Linnean Society 27:211-230. PDF

Wulff, J. L. 1985. Clonal organisms and the evolution of mutualism. Pages 437-446 in J. B. C. Jackson, L. W. Buss, and R. E. Cook, ed. Population Biology and Evolution of Clonal Organisms. Yale University Press, New Haven. PDF

Wulff, J. L. 1985. Dispersal and survival of fragments of coral reef sponges. Proceedings of the Fifth International Coral Reef Congress 5:119-124. PDF

Wulff, J. L. 1984. Sponge-mediated coral reef growth and rejuvenation. Coral Reefs 3:157-163. PDF

Woodley, J. D., E. A. Chornesky, P. A. Clifford, J. B. C. Jackson, L. S. Kaufman, J. C. Lang, M. P. Pearson, J. W. Porter, M. C. Rooney, K. W. Rylaarsdam, V. J. Tunnicliffe, C. W. Wahle, J. L. Wulff, A. S. G. Curtis, M. D. Dallmeyer, B. P. Jupp, M. A. R. Koehl, J. Neigel, and E. M. Sides. 1981. Hurricane Allens impact on Jamaican coral reefs. Science 214:749-755. PDF

Wulff, J. L., and L. W. Buss. 1979. Do sponges help hold coral reefs together? Nature 281:474-475. PDF

Graduate Students:

Hill, Kate
Kaiser, Kathleen

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