Descriptions of Poorly Known Marine Sponges (Phylum Porifera) from the Andaman Islands India with Notes on their Ecology
Keywords:Demospongiae; Distribution; Diversity; Taxonomy; Zoogeography
In the present manuscript taxonomic descriptions of 20 species of sponges distributed among 18 genera, 14 families and 10 orders are provided along with notes on their geographic distribution and ecology. A total of 10 growth forms were observed of which, thin sheets were the most dominant growth form (25%) followed by massive globose (15%); massive lobose (15%) and massive flanged (10%). Seven growth forms were found to be rare, represented only by one species each. Most sponge species preferred a rocky substrate followed by dead coral and live coral. Sponges exhibiting thin sheet type of growth form were found to colonise on all hard substrates such as rocky substrates, dead and live corals. Only one species, Oceanapia sagittaria, exhibiting cylindrical growth form, was found in sandy bottom. Stylissa massa and Phyllospongia foliascens were found to be present invariably in all depths. Spheciospongia vagabunda, and two varieties viz., Spheciospongia inconstans var. meandrina and S. inconstans var. digitata were found in the shallow waters (0 – 1 m). Species-specific information on taxonomy, zoogeography and bathymetric distribution of the sponges of the Andaman Islands provided herein would be valuable for future biomonitoring programs for their conservation and management.