An overview of the Mediterranean cave-dwelling horny sponges (Porifera, Demospongiae)
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The present synthesis focuses on the so called ‘horny sponges’ recorded from marine caves of the Mediterranean Sea. The main aim is to provide a list of all recorded species, diagnostic keys to their identification up to family and genus level, and exhaustive, formally uniform descriptions at the species level contributing to sharing of information on the faunistics and taxonomy of Mediterranean cave-dwelling species, including habitat preferences. The majority of species was recorded in 105 Mediterranean marine caves hosting four orders of horny sponges belonging to 9 families, 19 genera and 40 species. Species endemic to the Mediterranean Sea harboured in marine caves are 14 with an endemicity value of 35%. For each species morphological descriptions are supported by illustrations both original and from the literature, including the diagnostic traits of the skeleton by light and scanning electron microscopy giving further characterization at the specific level. A detailed map together with a list of all caves harbouring horny sponges is also provided with geographic coordinates.