Skip to main content

Lithistid sponges of the upper bathyal of Madeira, Selvagens and Canary Islands, with description of a new species of Isabella

  • F.C. Carvalho (a1), S.A. Pomponi (a2) and J.R. Xavier (a3)

Desma-bearing sponges, also known as lithistids or rock sponges, are a group typical of bathyal environments throughout tropical and warm-temperate regions. In this study the lithistids collected in the course of the Harbor Branch Oceanographic Institute eastern Atlantic 1991 campaign to Madeira, Selvagens and the Canary Islands were identified and assigned to eight species, representing eight genera and five families. Several constitute new records for these islands and one is a new species of Isabella, a genus thus far only known from the Norfolk Ridge in New Caledonia, that is here described and illustrated. Some considerations are made in regards to the diversity and biogeographical affinities of the Atlanto-Mediterranean lithistid sponges.

Corresponding author
Correspondence should be addressed to: J.R. Xavier, Centre for Geobiology and Department of Biology, University of Bergen, Thormøhlensgate 53A/B, N-5020 Bergen, Norway email:
Hide All
Bowerbank, J.S. (1869) A monograph of the siliceo-fibrous sponges. Part I. Proceedings of the Zoological Society of London 1869, 66100, pls III–VI.
Cárdenas, P., Xavier, J.R., Reveillaud, J., Schander, C. and Rapp, H.T. (2012) Molecular phylogeny of the Astrophorida (Porifera, Demospongiae) reveals an unexpected high level of spicule homoplasy. PLoS ONE 6, e18318. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0018318.
Cárdenas, P., Rapp, H.T., Klitgaard, A.B., Best, M., Thollesson, M. and Tendal, O.S. (2013) Taxonomy, biogeography and DNA barcodes of Geodia species (Porifera, Demospongiae, Tetractinellida) in the Atlantic boreo-arctic region. Zoological Journal of the Linnean Society 169, 251311.
Carter, H.J. (1876) Descriptions and figures of deep-sea sponges and their spicules, from the Atlantic Ocean, dredged up on board H.M.S. ‘Porcupine’, chiefly in 1869 (concluded). Annals and Magazine of Natural History (4) 18(105), 226240; (106), 307–324; (107), 388–410; (108), 458–479.
Cruz, T. (2002) Esponjas marinas de Canarias. S/C Tenerife: Consejería de Política Territorial y Medio Ambiente del Gobierno de Canarias, 260 pp.
Du Bocage, J.V.B. (1869) [1870] Eponges siliceuses nouvelles du Portugal et de l'île Saint-Iago (Archipel de Cap-Vert). Jornal de Sciencias Mathematicas, Physicas e Naturaes 2, 159162.
Folmer, O., Black, M., Hoeh, W., Lutz, R. and Vrijenhoek, R. (1994) DNA primers for amplification of mitochondrial cytochrome c oxidase subunit I from diverse metazoan invertebrates. Molecular Marine Biology and Biotechnology 3, 294299.
Gray, J.E. (1859) Description of Macandrewia and Myliusia, two new forms of sponges. Proceedings of the Zoological Society of London 27, 437440, pls. XV–XVI.
Hestetun, F.T., Fourt, M., Vacelet, I., Boury-Esnault, N. and Rapp, H.T. (2014) Cladorhizidae (Porifera, Demospongiae, Poecilosclerida) of the deep Atlantic collected during Ifremer cruises, with a biogeographic overview of the Atlantic species. Journal of the Marine Biological Association of the United Kingdom, 1–32. doi:10.1017/S0025315413001100.
Hooper, J.N.A. and Van Soest, R.W.M. (2002). Systema Porifera: a guide to the classification of sponges. New York: Kluwer Academic/Plenum Publishers.
Johnson, J.Y. (1863) Description of a new siliceous sponge from the coast of Madeira. Proceedings of the Zoological Society, London 1863, 257259.
Kelly, M. (2007) The marine fauna of New Zealand: Porifera: lithistid Demospongiae (rock sponges). NIWA Biodiversity Memoir 121, 1100.
Kelly, M., Ellwood, M., Tubbs, L. and Buckeridge, J. (2007) The lithistid Demospongiae in New Zealand waters: species composition and distribution. In Custódio, M.R., Lôbo-Hajdu, G., Hajdu, E. and Muricy, G. (eds) Porifera research: biodiversity, innovation and sustainability. Série Livros 28. Rio de Janeiro: Museu Nacional, pp. 393404.
Kelly-Borges, M. and Pomponi, S.A. (1994) Phylogeny and classification of lithistid sponges (Porifera: Demospongiae): a preliminary assessment using ribossomal DNA sequence comparisons. Molecular Marine Biology and Biotechnology 3, 87103.
von Lendenfeld, R. (1903) Porifera. Tetraxonia. In Schulze, F.E. (ed.) Das Tierreich, 19. Berlin: Friedländer, pp. vi–xv, 1168.
von Lendenfeld, R. (1907) Die Tetraxonia. Wissenschaftliche Ergebnisse der Deutschen Tiefsee-Expedition auf der Dampfer Valdivia 1898–1899 11, 12.
Lévi, C. (1991) Lithistid sponges from the Norfolk Rise: recent and Mesozoic genera. In Reitner, J. and Keupp, H. (eds) Fossil and recent sponges. Berlin: Springer-Verlag Publishers, pp. 7282.
Lévi, C. and Lévi, P. (1983) Éponges Tétractinellides et Lithistides bathyales de Nouvelle-Calédonie. Bulletin du Muséum National d'Histoire Naturelle, Paris 5, 101168.
Lévi, C. and Lévi, P. (1988) Nouveaux Spongiaires éponges lithistids bathyaux à affinities crétacées de la Nouvelle Calédonie. Bulletin du Muséum National d'Histoire Naturelle, Paris 4, 241263.
Longo, C., Mastrotaro, F. and Corriero, G. (2005) Sponge fauna associated with a Mediterranean deep-sea coral bank. Journal of the Marine Biological Association of the United Kingdom 85, 13411352.
Magnino, G., Gravina, M.F., Righni, P., Serena, F. and Pansini, M. (1999) Due demosponge Lithistidi nuove per i mari italiani. Biologia Marina Mediterranea 6, 391393.
Manconi, R. and Serusi, A. (2008) Rare sponges from marine caves: discovery of Neophrissospongia nana nov. sp. (Demospongiae, Corallistidae) from Sardinia with an annotated checklist of Mediterranean lithistids. Zookeys 4, 7187.
Manconi, R., Serusi, A. and Pisera, A. (2006) A new mediterranean ‘lithistid’ sponge, Aciculites mediterranea sp. nov. (Porifera: Demospongiae) from a dark marine cave in Sardinia. Journal of the Marine Biological Association of the United Kingdom 86, 691698.
McInerney, J.O., Adams, C.L. and Kelly, M. (1999) Phylogenetic resolution potential of 18S and 28S rRNA genes within the lithistid Astrophorida. Memoirs of the Queensland Museum 44, 343351.
Perez, T., Vacelet, J., Bitar, G. and Zibrowius, H. (2004) Two new lithistids (Porifera, Demospongiae) from a shallow eastern Mediterranean cave (Lebanon). Journal of the Marine Biological Association of the United Kingdom 84, 1524.
Pisera, A. (2002) Fossil ‘Lithistids’: an overview. In Hooper, J.N.A. and van Soest, R.W.M (eds) Systema Porifera: a guide to the classification of sponges. New York: Kluwer Academic/Plenum Publishers, pp. 388402.
Pisera, A. and Lévi, C. (2002) ‘Lithistid’ demospongiae. In Hooper, J.N.A. and van Soest, R.W.M. (eds) Systema Porifera: a guide to the classification of sponges. New York: Kluwer Academic/Plenum Publishers, pp. 299301.
Pisera, A. and Vacelet, J. (2011) Lithistid sponges from submarine caves in the Mediterranean: taxonomy and affinities. Scientia Marina 75, 1740.
Pomponi, S.A., Kelly, M., Reed, J.K. and Wright, A. (2001) Diversity and bathymetric distribution of lithistid sponges in the tropical western Atlantic region. Bulletin of the Biological Society of Washington 10, 344353.
Redmond, N.E., Morrow, C.C., Thacker, R.W., Diaz, M.C., Boury-Esnault, N., Cárdenas, P., Hajdu, E., Lôbo-Hajdu, G., Picton, B.E., Pomponi, S.A., Kayal, E. and Collins, A.G. (2013) Phylogeny and systematics of demospongiae in light of new small-subunit ribosomal DNA (18S) sequences. Integrative and Comparative Biology 52, 388415.
Schlacher-Hoenlinger, M.A., Pisera, A. and Hooper, J.N.A. (2005) Deep-sea ‘lithistid’ assemblages from the Norfolk Ridge (New Caledonia), with description of seven new species and a new genus (Porifera, Demospongiae). Zoosystema 27, 649698.
Schmidt, O. (1870) Gundzüge einer Spongien Fauna des atlantischen Gebietes. Leipzig: Wilhelm Engelman.
Schmidt, O. (1880) Die Spongien des Meerbusens von Mexico und des Caraibischen Meeres. Heft II. Abtheilung II. Hexactinelliden. Abtheilung III. Tetractinelliden. Monactinelliden und Anhang. Nachträge zu Abtheilung I (Lithistiden). In Reports on the dredging under the supervision of Alexander Agassiz, in the Gulf of Mexico, by the USCSS ‘Blake’. Jena: Gustav Fischer, pp. 3390, pls. V–X.
Schrammen, A. (1924) Die Kieselspongien der oberen Kreide von Nordwestdeutschland. III. und letzter Teil. Monographien zur Geologie und Paläontologie 2, 1159, I–XVII.
van Soest, R.W.M. and Stentoft, N. (1988) Barbados deep-water sponges. Studies on the Fauna of Curaçao and Other Caribbean Islands 70, 1175.
van Soest, R.W.M., Boury-Esnault, N., Hooper, J.N.A., Rützler, K., de Voogd, N.J., Alvarez de Glasby, B., Hajdu, E., Pisera, A.B., Manconi, R., Schoenberg, C., Janussen, D., Tabachnick, K.R., Klautau, M., Picton, B., Kelly, M., Vacelet, J., Dohrmann, M., Díaz, M.C. and Cárdenas, P. (2014) World Porifera database. Available at (accessed 29 July 2014).
Sollas, W.J. (1885) A classification of the sponges. Annals and Magazine of Natural History (5) 16, 395.
Sollas, W.J. (1888) Report on the Tetractinellida collected by H.M.S. Challenger, during the years 1873–1876. Report on the Scientific Reports of the Voyage of H.M.S. Challenger, 1873–1876. Zoology 25, 1458.
Topsent, E. (1889) Quelques spongiaires du Banc de Campêche et de la Pointe-á-Pître. Mémoires de la Société Zoologique de France 2, 3052.
Topsent, E. (1892) Contribution à l'étude des Spongiaires de l'Atlantique Nord (Golfe de Gascogne, Terre-Neuve, Açores). Résultats des campagnes scientifiques accomplies par le Prince Albert I. Monaco 2, 1165.
Topsent, E. (1894) Etude monographique des spongiaires de France. I.Tetractinellida. Archives de Zoologie Expérimentale et Générale 2, 259400.
Topsent, E. (1898) Eponges nouvelles des Açores. (Première serie) Mémoires de la Société Zoologique de France 11, 225255.
Topsent, E. (1904) Spongiaires des Açores. Résultats des Campagnes Scientifiques Accomplies par le Prince Albert I. Monaco 25, 1280, pls. 1–18.
Topsent, E. (1928) Spongiaires de l'Atlantique et de la Méditerranée provenant des croisières du Prince Albert ler de Monaco. Résultats des Campagnes Scientifiques Accomplies par le Prince Albert I. Monaco 74, 1376.
Vacelet, J. (1969) Eponges de la roche du large et de l'étage bathyal de Méditerranée (Récoltes de la soucoupe plongeante Costeau et dragages). Mémoires du Muséum National d'Histoire Naturelle (A, Zoologie) 59, 145219.
Xavier, J.R. and Van Soest, R.W.M. (2012) Diversity patterns and zoogeography of the Northeast Atlantic and Mediterranean shallow-water sponge fauna. Hydrobiologia 687, 107125.
Recommend this journal

Email your librarian or administrator to recommend adding this journal to your organisation's collection.

Journal of the Marine Biological Association of the United Kingdom
  • ISSN: 0025-3154
  • EISSN: 1469-7769
  • URL: /core/journals/journal-of-the-marine-biological-association-of-the-united-kingdom
Please enter your name
Please enter a valid email address
Who would you like to send this to? *


Type Description Title
Supplementary materials

Carvalho Supplementary Material
Supplementary Material

 Unknown (13 KB)
13 KB


Altmetric attention score

Full text views

Total number of HTML views: 0
Total number of PDF views: 0 *
Loading metrics...

Abstract views

Total abstract views: 0 *
Loading metrics...

* Views captured on Cambridge Core between <date>. This data will be updated every 24 hours.

Usage data cannot currently be displayed