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A new species of habitat–forming Suberites (Porifera, Demospongiae, Suberitida) in the Benguela upwelling region (South Africa)



S. dandelenae sp. nov. is described from the west coast of South Africa and occurs at depths of 80–500 m among unconsolidated sediments. Specimens can reach 40 cm in length and in some areas off South Africa, up to 18 tons/km2 can be collected in a single demersal trawl. Morphologically, the sponge is straw yellow, massive with rounded lobes and has a velvety surface: it is characterized by subradiate, irregular reticulation of bundles of tylostyles and tylostrongyles. Specimens of S. dandelenae sp. nov. have three size classes of tylostyles with the largest tylostyle lengths being 516 μm (441–614 μm), medium tylostyle lengths being 352 μm (307–422 μm) and the shortest tylostyle lengths being 215 μm (153–288 μm). Apart from the presence of tylostyles, some specimens of S. dandelenae sp. nov. also possess centrotylostongyles/oxeas, tylostrongyles and microacanthostrongyles spicules. We have used morphological characters to distinguish this species and a molecular marker (cox1) to conform that all specimens are the same species. At the spicular level, S. dandelenae sp. nov. is characterized by a complex of spicule types that vary with specimen size. Following a histological investigation and re–description of the holotypes of S. ficus (Johnston, 1842) and S. tylobtusus Lévi, 1958, and comparisons with S. carnosus (Johnston, 1842), S. stilensis Burton, 1933, and other Suberites species described from the African region, it is clear that the new species is different in spicule morphology, spicule size and external morphology. For example, microacanthostrongyles are not present in S. tylobtusus and S. carnosus, whilst S. ficus possesses a second, non–spinose category of microstrongyles. Suberites tylobtusus has tylostyles that are sometimes polytylote, with heads either well formed, pear shaped or reduced, in only one size catogory. The 'tylobtuse' condition of the tylostyles is also different to the kidney–shaped and centrotylostrongyles found in S. dandelenae sp. nov. Suberites stilensis Burton, 1933 has larger and thicker tylostyles (800 μm length x 10 μm thick) than those of S. dandelenae sp. nov. A comparative analysis of partial cox1 sequences from morphologically diverse specimens of S. dandelenae sp. nov. with published material indicates that all specimens comprise a monophyletic clade. The combined morphological and genetic data support the designation of Suberites dandelenae sp. nov.



Porifera; Suberites; new species; South Africa; sponges; taxonomy; Vulnerable Marine Ecosystem (VME)

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ISSN 1175-5326 (Print Edition) & ISSN 1175-5334 (Online Edition)
Published by Magnolia Press, Auckland, New Zealand
A founding journal of Biotaxa