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Sponges from rhodolith beds surrounding Ustica Island marine protected area (southern Tyrrhenian Sea), with a comprehensive inventory of the island sponge fauna


https://doi.org/10.3989/scimar.04991.29A

Caterina Longo
University of Bari Aldo Moro, Department of Biology, Italy
orcid https://orcid.org/0000-0003-3123-1568

Giuseppe Corriero
University of Bari Aldo Moro, Department of Biology, Italy
orcid https://orcid.org/0000-0002-4076-5804

Frine Cardone
University of Bari Aldo Moro, Department of Biology, Italy
orcid https://orcid.org/0000-0002-8999-8254

Maria Mercurio
University of Bari Aldo Moro, Department of Biology, Italy
orcid https://orcid.org/0000-0001-5567-6380

Cataldo Pierri
University of Bari Aldo Moro, Department of Biology, Italy
orcid https://orcid.org/0000-0002-6125-3322

Carlotta Nonnis Marzano
University of Bari Aldo Moro, Department of Biology, Italy
orcid https://orcid.org/0000-0003-1284-9610

Abstract


The sponge fauna colonizing rhodolith beds from Ustica Island marine protected area was studied. Moreover, an inventory of the sponge species present along the island’s coasts was carried out for the first time. Analysis of rhodoliths trapped in nets used by local fishermen at two sites and data obtained from underwater video images were used to identify 25 sponge taxa, 22 of them at species level. The classes Demospongiae and Homoscleromorpha were present with 24 and 1 species, respectively. Most of the specimens were small-sized and represented by thick crusts or short erect branches. Few specimens were insinuating or excavating. Furthermore, qualitative sampling was performed on Ustica’s coralligenous formations, photophilous hard substrates and in marine caves, and the results obtained were added to the literature data. The overall checklist of sponges from Ustica encompassed 97 taxa, 90 named at species level, subdivided into 6 taxa of Calcarea, 3 of Homoscleromorpha and 88 of Demospongiae. Eleven of the species were endemic to the Mediterranean Sea, mainly concentrated on rhodoliths and in marine caves. This research adds a fundamental element to the knowledge of invertebrates associated with rhodoliths, and updates the checklist of sponges colonizing Ustica’s waters, facilitating its future monitoring.

Keywords


Porifera; Ustica Island; Mediterranean Sea; rhodolith beds; coralligenous formations; photophilous hard substrates; marine caves

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