Niphates toxifera (Porifera, Demospongiae), a possible Lessepsian species now colonizing the coast of Turkey

Niphates toxifera (Porifera, Demospongiae), a possible Lessepsian species now colonizing the coast of Turkey

Alper Evcen, Bülent Gözcelioğlu, Melih Ertan Çinar

ORCID IDs: A.E. 0000-0003-1134-2551; B.G. 0000-0003-1835-2701; M.E.Ç. 0000-0002-1802-2801

Faculty of Fisheries, Ege University, 35100, Bornova, İzmir, TURKEY
The Scientific and Technological Research Council of Turkey, Marine and Inland Waters Unit of the Environment and Cleaner Production Institute, Gebze, Kocaeli, TURKEY
The Scientific and Technological Research Council of Turkey, Science and Society Division, Ankara, TURKEY


This paper deals with the occurrence of Niphates toxifera (Porifera) on the Levantine coast of Turkey. This species was originally described from the coast of Lebanon and was known to be confined to a restricted area (Beirut-Syria-Israel). In February 2019, three specimens of this species were photographed and collected at 10-15 m on rocks (including cave walls) off Samandağ, near İskenderun Bay (north-east Levantine Sea), indicating its northwards spread. The distributional pattern and on-going range expansion trend of this species indicate the possibility of a Lessepsian species. This species is also a new record for the marine fauna of Turkey. The morphological and distributional features of the species are presented.

Keywords: Sponges, alien species, biodiversity, distribution, Levantine Sea, Turkey, eastern Mediterranean

pdf-dl icon


Ammar, I., Fadel, S. (2017) Update list of sponges of Lattakia (Syria)-new record exotic species. Journal of Entomology and Zoology Studies 5(2): 1041-1047.

Burton, M. (1936) The fishery grounds near Alexandria. IX. Sponges. Notes and Memoirs of the Fisheries Research Directorate Cairo 17: 1-28.

Çinar, M.E. (2005) Syllis ergeni: a new species of Syllidae (Annelida: Polychaeta) from Izmir Bay (Aegean Sea, eastern Mediterranean Sea). Zootaxa 1036: 43-53.

Çinar, M.E. (2006) Serpulid species (Polychaeta: Serpulidae) from the Levantine coast of Turkey (eastern Mediterranean), with special emphasis on alien species. Aquatic Invasions 1: 223-240.

Çinar, M.E. (2013) Alien polychaete species worldwide: current status and their impacts. Journal of the Marine Biological Association of the United Kingdom 93: 1257-1278.

Çinar, M.E., Bakir, K., Doğan, A., Açik, S., Kurt, G., Katağan, T., Öztürk, B., Dağli, E., Özcan, T., Kirkim, F. (2019) Macro-benthic invertebrates associated with the black sponge Sarcotragus foetidus (Porifera) in the Levantine and Aegean Seas, with emphasis on alien species. Estuarine, Coastal and Shelf Science 227: 106306.

Çinar, M.E., Bilecenoglu, M., Öztürk, B., Katağan, T., Yokeş, M.B., Aysel, V., Dağlı, E., Açık, S., Özcan, T., Erdoğan, H. (2011) An updated review of alien species on the coasts of Turkey. Mediterranean Marine Science 12: 257-315.

De Voogd, N.J., Parra-Velandia, F.J., Van Soest, R.W.M. (2008) A new Agelas (Demospongiae: Agelasida: Agelasidae) from the Thousands Islands, West-Java, Indonesia. Zoologische Mededelingen 82: 235-243.

Evcen, A., Çinar, M.E. (2012) Sponge (Porifera) species from the Mediterranean coast of Turkey (Levantine Sea, eastern Mediterranean), with a checklist of sponges from the coasts of Turkey. Turkish Journal of Zoology 36: 460-474.

Evcen, A., Çınar, M.E. (2015) Bioeroding sponge species (Porifera) in the Aegean Sea (Eastern Mediterranean). Journal of the Black Sea/Mediterranean Environment 21(3): 285-306.

Evcen, A., Çinar, M.E. (2020) Sponge species from ports of the inner and middle parts of İzmir Bay (Aegean Sea, Eastern Mediterranean). Ege Journal of Fisheries and Aquatic Sciences 37: 149-155.

Guardiola, M., Frotscher, J., Uriz, M.J. (2011) Genetic structure and differentiation at a short-time scale of the introduced calcarean sponge Paraleucilla magna to the western Mediterranean. Hydrobiologia 687: 71-84.

Idan, T., Shefer, S., Feldstein, T., Yaher, R., Huchon, D., Ilan, M. (2018) Shedding light on an East Mediterranean mesophotic sponge ground community and the regional sponge fauna. Mediterranean Marine Science 19(1): 84-106.

Ilan, M., Gugel, J., Van Soest, R.W.M. (2004) Taxonomy, reproduction and ecology of new and known Red Sea sponges. Sarsia 89: 388-410.

Katsanevakis, S. et al. (2020) Unpublished Mediterranean records of marine alien and cryptogenic species. BioInvasions Records 9(2): 165-182.

Longo, C., Mastrototaro, F., Corriero, G. (2007) Occurrence of Paraleucilla magna (Porifera: Calcarea) in the Mediterranean Sea. Journal of the Marine Biological Association of the United Kingdom 87: 1749-1756.

Saritas, M.U. (1972) A preliminary study of the siliceous sponge (Porifera) fauna of Engeceli Limani in the Gulf of Izmir (Aegean Sea). Scientific Reports of the Faculty of Science, Ege University 143: 17-18. (in Turkish).

SPA/RAC–UNEP/MAP (2017) Ecological characterization of potential new Marine Protected Areas in Lebanon: Batroun, Medfoun and Byblos, (eds., Ramos-Esplá, A.A., Bitar, G., Forcada, A., Valle, C., Ocaña, O., Sghaier, Y.R., Samaha, Z., Kheriji, A., Limam, A.) SPA/RAC, MedMPA Network Project, Tunis: 93 pp.

Topaloğlu, B., Evcen, A. (2014) Updated checklist of sponges (Porifera) along the coasts of Turkey. Turkish Journal of Zoology 38: 665-676.

Tsurnamal, M. (1969) Sponges of Red Sea origin on the Mediterranean coast of Israel. Israel Journal of Zoology 18: 149-155.

Vacelet, J., Bitar, G., Carteron, S., Zibrowius, H., Perez, T. (2007) Five new sponge species (Porifera: Demospongiae) of subtropical or tropical affinities from the coast of Lebanon (eastern Mediterranean). Journal of the Marine Biological Association of the United Kingdom 87: 1539-1552.

Voultsiadou, E. (2005) Demosponge distribution in the eastern Mediterranean: a NW–SE gradient. Helgoland Marine Research 59: 237-251.

Voultsiadou, E., Gerovasileiou, V., Bailly, N. (2016) Porifera of Greece: an updated checklist. Biodiversity data journal 4: 1-25.

WPD (2020) World Porifera Database. Available at: (accessed 12 Sep 2020).

Zammit, P.P., Longo, C., Schembri, P.J. (2009) Occurrence of Paraleucilla magna Klautau et al. (2004) (Porifera: Calcarea) in Malta. Mediterranean Marine Science 10: 135-138.

Zenetos, A., Çinar, M.E., Pancucci-Papadopoulou, M.A., Harmelin, J.G., Furnari, G., Andaloro, F., Bellou, N., Streftaris, N., Zibrowius, H. (2005) Annotated list of marine alien species in the Mediterranean with records of the worst invasive species. Mediterranean Marine Science 6: 63-118.

Zenetos, Α., Gofas, S., Morri, C., Rosso, A., Violanti, D., Garcia Raso, J., Çinar, M.E., Almogi-Labin, A., Ates, A., Azzurro, E., Ballesteros, E., Bianchi, C., Bilecenoglu, M., Gambi, M., Giangrande, A., Gravili, C., Hyams-Kaphzan, O., Karachle, P., Katsanevakis, S., Lipej, L., Mastrototaro, F., Mineur, F., Pancucci-Papadopoulou, M., Ramos Espla, A., Salas, C., San Martin, G., Sfriso, A., Streftaris, N., Verlaque, M. (2012) Alien species in the Mediterranean Sea by 2012. A contribution to the application of European Union’s Marine Strategy Framework Directive (MSFD). Part 2. Introduction trends and pathways. Mediterranean Marine Science 13: 328-352.