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Bioeroding sponges common to the central Australian Great Barrier Reef: Descriptions of three new species, two new records, and additions to two previously described species


A large collection of bioeroding sponges was obtained from the following reefs of the Central Great Barrier Reef (GBR), Australia: Myrmidon, John Brewer, Rib and Pandora Reefs, and Pelorus, Orpheus, Fantôme, Great Palm, Acheron and Magnetic Islands. As many descriptive characters as possible were used including skeleton and tissue characters, but also field observationsin situ and bioerosion traces. Bioerosion traces are very similar between species; nevertheless, they yield extra information on genus level. The following sponges are described in detail:Cliona tinctoria sp. nov.,Cliona orientalis, new record for the GBR,Pione caesia sp. nov., incertae sedis,Cliothosa hancocki, new record for the GBR,Zyzzya criceta sp. nov. Descriptions of selected characters of two previously described GBR bioeroding sponges,Cliona celata andAka mucosa, are amended.C. orientalis belongs into a species group previously named as “Cliona viridis complex”, species of which are difficult to discern from each other.C. orientalis can be recognized by its spiraster morphology, i.e. by their multisplit actines along the convex side of a spiraling spiraster shaft. Summarizing tables with descriptive characters for all described species and for species of the “Cliona viridis complex” are given.

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subordinate ray branching off the main axis of the spicule, usually in the form of spines


papillate first stage in a series of growth forms in bio-eroding sponges: most of the sponge tissue is hidden within the substrate; the sponge is visible on the surface with papillae only


with spines

axial thread:

organic matrix around which demosponges deposit silica to form spicules


encrusting second stage in a series of growth forms in bioeroding sponges: the sponge tissue covers the substrate surface in a +/-contiguous veneer


collar-cell with microvilli and flagellum, feeding cell and smallest unit pumping water through the sponge


internal tissue, which contains choanocytes


rod-like spicules with symmetrical ends, e.g. tylotes, oxeas, strongyles


unicellular external surface layer


stalked in- or exhalant structure


gradually tapering


massive third stage in a series of growth forms in bioeroding sponges: the sponge has removed all of the calcareous substrate which it previously inhabited and has become free-living


criss-crossed, irregular spicule arrangement


abruptly tapering to a point


condition of spicules piercing the ectosome


exhalant opening


inhalant opening


localised area on the sponge surface with in- or exhalant openings; in a bioeroding sponge: roughly circular areas of tissue penetrating the substrate and connecting the sponge with the surrounding water

sponge chips:

small lentil-shaped calcareous particles of 10–100 (xm in diameter, which bioeroding sponges remove from the substrate they live in; they are characterised by a smooth, rounded bottom and a faceted top pitted from previously removed chips

spongin fibre:

threads of organic skeleton


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Schönberg, C.H.L. Bioeroding sponges common to the central Australian Great Barrier Reef: Descriptions of three new species, two new records, and additions to two previously described species. Senckenbergiana maritima 30, 161–221 (2000).

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Key words

  • Porifera
  • sponges
  • Demospongiae
  • Hadromerida
  • Clionidae
  • Cliona viridis complex
  • Cliona
  • Cliothosa
  • Haplosclerida
  • Niphatidae
  • Aka
  • Poecilosclerida
  • Coelosphaeridae
  • Zyzzya
  • Great Barrier Reef
  • taxonomy
  • new record
  • new species
  • redescription
  • bioerosion