Tuesday, 29 July 2014

Two new species of Chalinid Dermosponge from Western Australia.

Chalinid Dermosponges are among the hardest Sponges to classify taxonomically due to their simple anatomies and variable morphologies. They are encrusting Sponges with skeletons made up of individual spicules which support their structure, but are not helpful taxonomically. Species are often distinctively coloured, but this is not visible in preserved specimens, making comparison to museum specimens extremely difficult. Chalinid Dermosponges are found globally and at all depths, but are most abundant and diverse in shallow subtidal waters (i.e. just below the low-tide level).

In a paper published in the journal Zootaxa on 9 July 2014, Jane Fromont of the Aquatic Zoology Department at the Western Australian Museum and David Abdo of the Marine Ecology and Monitoring Section of the Department of Fisheries of the Government of Western Australia describe two new species of Chalinid Dermosponge from temperate coastal waters off the coast of Western Australia, both of which are placed in the genus Haliclona.

The first new species is named Haliclona djeedara, which means 'brown' in the Nyoongar language, spoken by the indigenous people of south Western Australia. Haliclona djeedara is an erect, lobate, encrusting Sponge, light brown or beige in colour. It is firm, but compressible with a springy texture and large internal canals. It was found living on limestone reefs at depths of 3-30 m, in temperate waters south of 30˚ south, from Jurien Bay in the north to Bremer Bay in the south. It was observed giving birth to cylindrical parenchymellae larvae (planktonic Sponge larvae consisting of clumps of ciliated cells) in February, which is summer in Western Australia. The individual Sponges are gonochoric (sexed, can be male or female).

Underwater image of Haliclona djeedara. David Abdo in Fromont & Abdo (2014).

The second new species is named Haliclona durdong, meaning 'green' in the Nyoongar language. Haliclona durdong is an erect or massive Dermosponge with a smooth, velvety surface. It is compressible and easily damaged. It was found living on limestone reefs at depths of 3-30 m, in temperate waters south of 30˚ south, from Jurien Bay in the north to Bremer Bay in the south. It gives birth to to cylindrical parenchymellae larvae in the summer; individuals can apparently be gonochoric or hermaphroditic. 

Underwater image of Haliclona durdong. David Abdo in Fromont & Abdo (2014).

See also…

Theonellid Sponges are predominantly deepwater Sponges found across the globe, with a rigid skeleton made up of interlocking silica spicules. They are noted for the production of an array of unusual...

Unlike most Sponges (Porifera), which feed by filter feeding water pumped through their bodies, Carnivorous Sponges (Cladorhizidae) feed by capturing Crustaceans and other small animals on hooked spicules on filaments, then digesting them externally.  The group are predominantly found in deep water, where carnivory...

 A hypercalcified Chaetetid Demosponge from the Late Carboniferous of northwest Spain.

Sponges (Porifera) are considered to be the most primitive form of animals. They lack differentiated cells, and can reform if...

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