Haliclona (Haliclona) sonorensis, Cruz-Barraza, José Antonio & Carballo, José Luis, 2006

Cruz-Barraza, José Antonio & Carballo, José Luis, 2006, A new species of Haliclona (Demospongiae: Haplosclerida) living in association with Geodia media Bowerbank (Mexican Pacific coast), Zootaxa 1343, pp. 43-54 : 45-52

publication ID

https://doi.org/ 10.5281/zenodo.174434

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scientific name

Haliclona (Haliclona) sonorensis

sp. nov.

Haliclona (Haliclona) sonorensis sp. nov.

Material examined

Holotype: MNCN 1.01 / 362, Punta Pinta la Choya (Puerto Peñasco, Sonora, México) 31 ° 18 ’05”N, 113 ° 59 ’ 11 ”W, 3 m depth, 03/04/ 2005, on sponge Geodia media .

Paratypes: BMNH: 2005.4. 21.4, Punta Pinta la Choya (Puerto Peñasco, Sonora, México) 31 ° 18 ’05”N, 113 ° 59 ’ 11 ”W, 5 m depth, 03/04/ 2005, on sponge Geodia media LEB-ICML-UNAM- 296, Punta Cazón (Bahía Kino, Sonora, México) 28 ° 52 ’ 20 ’’N, 112 °02’01’’W, 2 m depth, 11 /08/ 2000, on sponge Geodia media . LEB-ICML-UNAM- 1224, Punta Pinta la Choya (Puerto Peñasco, Sonora, México) 31 ° 18 ’05”N, 113 ° 59 ’ 11 ”W, 5 m depth, 03/04/ 2005, on sponge Geodia media .


Pinkish violet, thinly encrusting sponge. Surface smooth, with scarce slightly elevated oscules. Consistency soft and compressible, but fragile and crumbly. Ectosomal skeleton is a regular, tangential, isotropic reticulation. Choanosomal skeleton is a regular, uni- to paucispicular reticulation of ascending lines, interconnected by single oxeas. Spicules are only short and robust oxeas only (77 -(112)- 150 x 2 -(5.6)- 10 µm).


Incrusting to semi-incrusting sponge (from 2 to 5 mm thick) covering the surface of Geodia media partly or completely ( Fig. 2 View FIGURE 2 AB). The species covers areas from 18 to 160 cm 2. The surface is even and smooth, with small orifices (from 25 to 75 µm in diameter) which might be ostia. Subectosomal spaces are present; they are regularly distributed along the body (from 250 to 500 µm in diameter). Oscules are scarce, with circular or oval shapes, about 0.5 to 1 mm in diameter ( Fig. 2 View FIGURE 2 AB). They are situated at the top of small summits of volcano-shaped elevations from 0.9 to 1.5 mm high, and distributed irregularly on the surface of the sponge. Ectosome is not easily detachable. Choanosomal canals measure from 150 to 300 µm in diameter. Consistency is soft, compressible, but fragile and easily friable. The color is pinkish violet when alive ( Fig. 2 View FIGURE 2 A) and dark or light brown in alcohol ( Fig. 2 View FIGURE 2 B).

Skeleton. The ectosomal skeleton is formed by a regular, tangential, isotropic reticulation of single spicules joined by spongin, forming triangular, quadrangular or polygonal meshes from 50 to 120 µm in diameter ( Fig. 3 View FIGURE 3 B, 4 A). The choanosomal skeleton is a regular, ladder-like reticulation of uni-paucispicular ascending lines (with 1, 2 or 3 spicules) interconnected by single spicules, forming triangular (60 to 90 µm), quadrangular (100 to 150 µm) and sometimes polygonal meshes ( Fig. 4 View FIGURE 4 B, 5). In some places the skeleton is a somewhat confuse isotropic reticulation. In the choanosome the spongin is less abundant at the nodes of the spicules than at the ectosome.

Spicules. The species presents short, slightly curved or fusiform oxeas with acerate ends ( Fig 3 View FIGURE 3 A, 4 C). Oxeas with blunt tips and style forms rarely occur ( Fig. 4 View FIGURE 4 C). Slender and slightly smaller oxeas are probably immature. The oxeas measure 100 -(127)- 145 µm long, and 5 -(8.4)- 10 µm wide. The immature oxeas measure 77 -(92.4)- 107 µm long and 2 - (2.8)- 4.5 µm wide ( Table 1 View TABLE 1 ).


The specific epithet refers to the state (Sonora) where the species was found.

Distribution and ecology

The specimens were collected in rocky shallow water (1–4 m depth) in two localities from the northern Mar de Cortés ( Fig. 1 View FIGURE 1 ). The species is common in these localities, but it is always found growing on the surface of the sponge Geodia media covering it completely or in parts, except for the oscular areas. The specimens have been collected in two seasons (spring and summer), but no embryos or larvae were found.


According to the most recent classification in Systema Porifera, the genus Haliclona is mainly defined by having a regular choanosomal skeleton, with a ladder-like reticulation of uni-pauci- or multispicular primary lines connected by unispicular secondary lines ( Weerdt 2002). The genus includes six valid subgenera, which are differentiated principally by their skeletal architecture; Haliclona Grant, 1836 ; Rhizoniera Griessingger, 1971 ; Gellius Gray, 1867 ; Soestella Weerdt, 2000 ; Reniera Schmidt, 1862 and Halichoclona Laubenfels, 1832 . According to this classification Haliclona (Haliclona) sonorensis sp. nov. shows characteristics of the subgenus Haliclona ( Weerdt 2002) .

Only three similar species with an ectosomal tangential unispicular, isotropic reticulation are known from the East Pacific area (described originally as Adocia spp.). H. ambrosia ( Dickinson, 1945) , H. dubia ( Ristau, 1978) and H. turquoisia ( Laubenfels, 1954) . H. ambrosia is a ramose sponge with a smooth surface and oscules up to 4 mm (color in life was not recorded), described from the Mar de Cortés ( Dickinson, 1945). In contrast, H. (H.) sonorensis sp. nov. is encrusting with scarce and smaller oscules. Another important difference is the presence of two categories of oxeas; 130 by 3 µm and 240 by 14 µm in H. ambrosia ( Dickinson, 1945) . H. dubia from California ( Ristau, 1978) is a white and hard, non-compressible sponge, with large oxeas (140 to 180 by 10–16 µm). A.

turquoisia was described from the Central Pacific area ( Laubenfels 1954) and later reported from different localities from the Mexican Pacific coast ( Gómez et al. 2002). This species is well characterized by its external morphology, which varies from encrusting to ramose growth form, by its typical green to bluish-green color, and by the choanosomal reticulation ( Laubenfels 1954, Gómez et al. 2002).

In addition, some haliclonid-species recorded from the Eastern Pacific such as Haliclona (Halichoclona) gellindra Laubenfels, 1932 and H. cinerea ( Grant, 1826) are similar to Haliclona (Haliclona) sonorensis sp. nov. in external morphology. Haliclona (Halichoclona) gellindra is an incrusting, pale lavender sponge described originally with an ectosomal skeleton as a crust of tangentially placed oxeas and an isodyctial choanosomal reticulation ( Laubenfels 1932). However, the holotype was reviewed by Weerdt (2002), who did not find ectosomal skeleton specialization and considered that the choanosomal skeleton is a rather dense, confuse, subisotropic reticulation without visible spongin, which is characteristic of the subgenus Halichoclona . Haliclona cinerea was originally described from European waters ( Grant 1826) and later was cited worldwide. For example, this species was reported in Canada ( Lambe 1893, as Reniera cinerea ), in California ( Laubenfels 1932), in Panama ( Laubenfels 1936, as Adocia cinerea ) and in the Mar de Cortés ( Dickinson 1945). H. cinerea is a polymorphous, brown to dark purple sponge (incrusting to masses of anastomosing branches), characterized by a regular hexagonal, unispicular ectosomal reticulation and isotropic unispicular choanosomal reticulation (according to Weerdt 1986), characteristics that are clearly different in H. (H.) sonorensis sp. nov. Currently, the sponge populations from the Mediterranean and east Atlantic coast are the only considered belonging to Haliclona cinerea (Weerdt 1986, Weerdt & Soest 1986).

However, the H. cinerea East Pacific specimens differ from the European specimens and they also differ from the new species. The Canada specimens are dull yellow in color, with oxeas of 98–111 µm long by 6 µm wide (the skeletal structure was not described) ( Lambe 1893). The California specimens are encrusting (3 cm thick), lavender in color, with oxeas of 150 µm long by 6–8 µm wide, without ectosomal specialization and with an choanosomal isodyctial reticulation structure ( Laubenfels 1932). The Panama specimens are slightly different to California because they have an ectosomal isodyctial reticulation of oxeas ( Laubenfels 1936). Dickinson specimens are also encrusting, with oscules conspicuous from 4 mm in diameter, and a choanosomal irregular reticulation of oxeas of 115 to 190 µm long. Ectosomal skeletal was not described ( Dickinson 1945).

The closest species to Haliclona (Haliclona) sonorensis sp. nov. is H. (H.) epiphytica Zea & Weerdt 1999 , described from the Caribbean ( Colombia). The species are similar in consistency, form, choanosomal skeleton and ectosomal skeletal structure. However, they are different in color and spicule dimensions: H. (H.) epiphityca is a cream-color sponge with shorter and thinner oxeas (63-67 - 97 x 2.9–6.9 µm). Both species share the epibiotic habit, but H. (H.) epiphytica grows on red algae, whereas H. (H.) sonorensis sp. nov. has been only found living on Geodia media .

In summary, the new species is well characterized by its skeletal structure, in addition to consistent external characteristics like an encrusting shape, pinkish violet color, scarce and slightly elevated oscules, and in general by living in association with another sponge. After the present study, the number of chalinids species along the Mexican Pacific coast has increased to 10 species.

TABLE 1. Comparative data of dimensions (in µm) of Haliclona (Haliclona) sonorensis sp. nov. specimens. The dimensions of the spicules are given as length x width of shaft. Values in parentheses are means.

Material examined Oxeas Immature oxeas.
MNCN 1.01/362 100-(125)-145 x 6.3-(8.2)-10 85-(91.8)-100 x 2.5 (2.7)-3
BMNH: 2005.4.21.4 110-(121.5)-130 x 5-(7.5)-8.8 80-(92.5)-97.5 x 2.5-(3)-4.5
LEB-ICML-UNAM-296 110-(121.5)-130 x 5-(7.5)-8.8 80-(92.5)-97.5 x 2.5-(3)-4.5
LEB-ICML-UNAM-1124 105-(122)-137.5 x 7.5-(8.3)-10 77-(93)-107 x 2-(2.7)-3.8

Museo Nacional de Ciencias Naturales














Haliclona (Haliclona) sonorensis

Cruz-Barraza, José Antonio & Carballo, José Luis 2006

Haliclona (Halichoclona) gellindra

Laubenfels 1932


de Laubenfels 1932


Gray 1867

Adocia cinerea

Gray 1867

H. cinerea

Gray 1867

H. cinerea (

Grant 1826