Pipestela, a new genus of Axinellidae (Porifera: Demospongiae: Halichondrida) and description of three new species

The new genus Pipestela is created to include axinellid sponges with lamellate, branching or tubular growth form bearing mainly oxeas arranged in a distinctive loose skeleton of vaguely plumose and wavy spiculo-fibres. The genus is known only from northeastern Australia, from the Great Barrier Reef, Coral Sea, Papua New Guinea, Solomon Islands and Vanuatu, with a single specimen known so far from Western Australia. Type species Pipestela candelabra sp. nov. is the most widely distributed of the five known species, and in some places forms highly abundant local populations. Pipestela rara sp. nov., P. occidentalis sp. nov., P. hooperi (Van Soest et al.) n. comb. and P. terpenensis (Fromont) n. comb. are also assigned to this new genus. All species are associated with coral reefs, in relatively clear water, between 10–50m depth. The genus shows affinity to Cymbastela in the predominance of oxeas, and to Auletta by the common organ-pipe morphology, but is distinct from the former by the loose skeleton and from the latter by its lack of styles and wavy diactinal spicules. The phylogenetic relationships of Pipestela, its position in the higher classification, and the limits of its spatial distribution are further investigated. The definition of Cymbastela is revised as a consequence of erecting this new genus.

Citation

Alvarez, B., Hooper, J.N.A & Van Soest, R.W.M. 2008 04 30: Pipestela, a new genus of Axinellidae (Porifera: Demospongiae: Halichondrida) and description of three new species. Memoirs of the Queensland Museum 52(2): 105–118. Brisbane. ISSN 0079-8835.

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    Date of publication

    30 April 2008

    Authors

    Dr John Hooper

    Belinda Alvarez

    Rob W.M. Van Soest