ANNOTATED CHECKLIST OF SPONGES (PORIFERA)
OF THE SOUTH CHINA SEA REGION
J.N.A. Hooper, J.A.
R.W.M. Van Soest
ABSTRACT. - Many important scientific collections of Porifera have been made within the South China Sea region, commencing in the late 1700s during the era of the ëspice tradeí, but no synthesis or inventory of this fauna had so far been attempted. This annotated systematic checklist of marine sponges contains over 1500 species recorded in the scientific literature (including marine natural products records), or so far unpublished collections known to exist in museums. As for many other marine invertebrate phyla the South China Sea region contains an exceptionally high diversity of sponges, with an expectation that many more species await discovery and description. This checklist indicates that about 5% of the fauna is widely distributed in the Indo-west Pacific, mainly associated with the coral reef fauna, some wide Indo-Pacific species, a few known to be introduced through human activities, whereas most appear to be ëendemicí to this region. This latter group is relatively more specialised in its ecological requirements than widespread coral reef species, living on non-emergent deeper reefs, soft bottoms, trawl grounds and other habitats which are rarely considered in conservation strategies. These strategies are discussed as they relate to particular charateristics of the sponge fauna.