Comparative Morphology, Ecology, and Fatty Acid Composition of West Indian Spheciospongia (Demospongea)
ABSTRACT The morphological variability of the common West Indian loggerhead sponge, Spheciospongia vesparium, is examined in light of the latest morphological and ecological information and new biochemical criteria, that is, composition and concentration of fatty acids. A typical and a yellow ecophenotypical form are distinguished. Comparing this species with its next relatives in the same zoogeographical region it is found that S. othella, first described from Bermuda, cannot be maintained as a separate species. S. cuspidifera, previously misinterpreted as “Xestospongia tier-neyi”, is confirmed as a distinct species of Spheciospongia, whereas “Prianos” tierneyi is considered a morphological variant of S. vesparium.