Most lithistids occur worldwide in deep-water environments, but can be found in some places in shallow water. They are not well known in the tropical western Atlantic, despite the fact that they were first described in the late 1800s. We report here two species of poorly known theonellid demosponges (Astrophorina), Discodermia dissoluta and Theonella atlantica, and one new species, Theonella wrightae, from the north-west, south-west and south Florida shelf. There is considerable variability in habitus, colour and spiculation in this species. If samples are taken randomly from different specimens and from functionally and structurally different locations on the sponge, the specimens could be mistakenly identified or individuals of the same species could be described as different species. This report increases the number of lithistid sponges reported from the tropical western Atlantic region to 30 species, but our unpublished data suggest a much higher number of species present in this region. It is also the second report of the relatively deep-water (81 m) occurrence of D. dissoluta that is mostly known from depths as shallow as 10–30 m.
|Journal||Journal of the Marine Biological Association of The United Kingdom|
|Publication status||Published - 2015|