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The World List is a searchable catalogue of species and higher taxa names.

Navigating this catalogue starts with clicking on one of six choices which you find in the top left corner of each page:

  • Intro: will lead you this introductory section
  • Species: will lead to a query page through which all taxon pages can be accessed
  • Specimens: will lead to a query page through which all specimens can be accessed
  • Distribution: will lead to a choice of collapsible geographic trees. The cuurently recommended path is Alternative Classifications / Realms / Provinces / MEOWs. Result can be a list of taxa for a given area.
  • Checklist: will lead to a query page in which a geounit can directly be picked if the exact name of the unit is already known. This way a list of taxa for a given area can be found quickly.
  • Sources: will lead to a query page for References of Porifera literature.
  • Login: only available to editors.

For each sponge species or infraspecific taxon, accepted or not, there may be the following entries:

  1. genus name
  2. the subgenus name, if applicable,
    N.B. subgenus names do not need to be cited at all times according to the ICZN; acceptance of combinations without subgenus names is considered ‘alternative representation’ in the WPD.
  3. the species name
  4. the infraspecific name, if applicable
  5. the author and year of the species name, without or with brackets depending on whether it is the original combination or not
  6. The AphiaID (a unique numerical database identifier)
  7. The classification (according to the Systema Porifera and updates)
  8. The status as ‘accepted’ or ‘unaccepted’ (if applicable; junior synonymy is usually based on published revision)
  9. Record status (indicates who checked the record)
  10. Rank of taxon, e.g. species
  11. Parent: immediately higher taxon, e.g. genus, to which the present taxon belongs
  12. Synonymized taxa: the list of junior synonyms linked to the present name
  13. Sources: literature reference of the original description and if applicable to a recent revision (as the ‘basis of the record’), e.g. the relevant chapter of the Systema Porifera. Additional important sources may also be given.
    If possible with regard to copyright, we provide pdfs of these sources.
  14. Child taxa: all immediate subordinate taxa, e.g. subspecies or varieties
  15. Environment: marine, freshwater, or brackish
  16. Fossil range: recent only or also known as fossil
  17. Distribution: indication of the geographic distribution of the taxon, at least based on the origin of the holotype,
    Different geounits may be indicated, preferably the Marine Ecoregion (see Spalding et al. 2007), but frequently also the country’s Exclusive Economic Zone. The distribution areas of the junior synonyms are automatically shown with each ‘accepted species’
  18. Specimen: type specimen information, or published specimen information,
    Such information may include museum registration number, type locality, coordinates, depth, collector etc. The Species entry will contain only summary information, but clicking on ‘Details’ will reveal all we have entered
  19. Links: to other sponge resources, to images and other information on specific servers,
    Current general links are: Genbank, the Sponge Barcode site, PorTOL, the Sponge Guide, the Marine Species Identification Portal, ITIS, etc.
  20. Notes: any further relevant information, including descriptions, comments, explanations, etc.
  21. Images: photos or other images uploaded to the site
    We prefer ‘objective’ images of the taxa, such as photos or illustrations of type specimens. We do not encourage photos of unidentified sponges, but reliably identified copyright free ‘in situ’ images are welcome.
  22. LSID notation: (similar to ISBN in publications)
  23. Edit history: date of entry and changes made, name of editor
  24. Links to a Taxonomic tree, Google, Google Scholar and Google images.

The records on higher taxa generally have the same structure as those of the species records. Not all of the above items already exist for all taxa entered in the WPD, but we are working hard to complete it.

What you can do with this database at this moment in time (2023) is find out what the currently accepted combination is of your subject sponge, what its currently accepted higher taxon affiliation is, and from where it was originally described. You can also check which accepted species occur in a higher taxon. What you cannot (yet) do is find every published combination of genus and species name, as we gave priority so far to the original and the currently accepted combinations (so non-original non-accepted combinations are frequently still lacking). What you also cannot do reliably is trace the distributions of species and higher taxa or extract regional lists of species, because there is as yet no consistency in the idication of sponge distributions.

To assist the beginner or the non-specialist we provide here a selection of links to sponge websites, treating biology and systematics of this oldest of the metazoan phyla.

Overview of the Sponges:

Website and databases developed and hosted by VLIZ · Page generated 2023-10-04 · contact: Nicole de Voogd