Coral reefs in the Atlantic have received less attention with regard to marine biodiversity research than those in the Indo-Pacific. In an overview of articles about corals or coral reefs in the journal Marine Biodiversity and its predecessor Senckenbergiana Maritima over the years 1969–2013, 35 papers concerned the Indo-Pacific and only 13 were about the Atlantic, a ratio of 2.7/1 (Hoeksema and Van der Meij 2013). Caribbean coral reefs also deserve biodiversity research attention because not all of their species have been reported yet, and these species are likely to participate in hitherto unknown interspecific associations (e.g., Thomas and Klebba 2007; Snijders and Fransen 2010; Ivanenko et al. 2017; Montano et al. 2017b) or appear to have incomplete geographical and bathymetrical distribution range information involving new records for the Atlantic (e.g., Montano et al. 2017a; Van der Loos and Prud’homme van Reine 2017).The present special issue of Marine Biodiversity on Caribbean coral reefs serves to add information on these points
James D. Reimer
Hexactinellid sponges are important members of deep-sea benthic ecosystems because they provide available hard substrate habitats for filter-feeding invertebrates. However, symbioses between hexactinellid sponges and their symbionts are poorly known. Zoantharians associated with hexactinellid sponges have been reported widely from deep-sea marine ecosystems, either on the bodies or stalks of hexactinellid sponges. Despite these records, there has been a lack of research on their diversity and phylogenetic relationships. In this study, 20 specimens associated with amphidiscophoran and hexasterophoran sponges were collected from the waters of Australia and Japan in the Pacific, and from Curaçao in the southern Caribbean, and these were examined in addition to museum specimens. Based on molecular phylogenetic analyses and morphological observations, we formally describe two new genera and three new species of Zoantharia and report several previously described species. The results suggest at least two independent origins for the symbioses between hexactinellid sponges and zoantharians. Our results demonstrate that the diversity of hexactinellid sponge-associated zoantharians is much higher than has been previously thought. The new taxa described in this work further reconfirm that the deep-sea harbours high levels of undescribed zoantharian diversity.