Díaz, J.A.; Ramírez-Amaro, S.; Ordines, F.; Cárdenas, P.; Ferriol, P.; Terrasa, B.; Massutí, E. (2020). Poorly known sponges in the Mediterranean with the detection of some taxonomic inconsistencies. Journal of the Marine Biological Association of the United Kingdom. 100 (8): 1247-1260.
The poorly known sponge species Axinella vellerea (Topsent, 1904), Acarnus levii (Vacelet, 1960) and Haliclona poecillastroides (Vacelet, 1969) are reported from bottom-trawl samples off the Balearic Islands, Western Mediterranean. A re-description is provided for all three species and the Folmer fragment of cytochrome oxidase subunit I (COI) obtained for A. levii and H. poecillastroides. This is the second report of A. vellerea in the Mediterranean, the first time that A. levii is reported outside Corsica and the first time that H. poecillastroides is documented outside the Gulf of Lion, France. The systematic allocation of A. levii and H. poecillastroides is discussed based on a COI phylogenetic analysis and morphology. The poorly understood phylogeny of the Haplosclerida does not permit us to find a proper allocation for H. poecillastroides, although its current position in the genus Haliclona or the family Chalinidae is not defensible. On the other hand, A. levii currently fits best in the family Microcionidae, and seems related to some Clathria species with mixed features between Clathria and Acarnus. Considering that the species of the genus Acarnus shares a strong synapomorphy (the possession of Cladotylotes), it is plausible for all Acarnus species to be Microcionids. We conclude that H. poecillastroides needs to be reallocated to a new genus: Xestospongia poecillastroides comb. nov. (Petrosiidae). However, a reallocation of A. levii is not advisable for the moment, as this would imply major systematic changes such as the reallocation of the whole genus Acarnus to Microcionidae, and the redescription of Microcionidae and Acarnidae.