Over 250 latrunculid sponge specimens (class Demospongiae, order Poecilosclerida, family Latrunculiidae) from around New Zealand and Antarctica were examined and registered from new and existing collections. Fifteen species were previously known from these regions, but differentiation on the basis of morphological traits has been challenging due to the paucity of information on key morphological and live characters in earlier published descriptions. Moreover, the easily recognisable and highly ornamented anisodiscorhabd microsclere, the key diagnostic character in latrunculid sponges, often differs in subtle ways between species.
Of these fifteen known species, we have redescribed fourteen with new scanning electron microscope images, emphasising detailed spicule dimensions and morphological descriptions to strengthen and clarify the differences between these species. We have also resurrected Latrunculia (Latrunculia) lendenfeldi Hentschel, 1914 based on new material. A fourth subgenus, Latrunculia (Aciculatrunculia) subgen. nov., has been established for two known species, Latrunculia biformis and L. apicalis sensu stricto, both of which possess aciculodiscorhabds with extended apical spires. Both are redescribed from new material.
Fourteen new extant species of Latrunculia and one fossil species (†) are described from the New Zealand Exclusive Economic Zone, the Australia Exclusive Economic Zone around Macquarie Island on Macquarie Ridge to the southwest of New Zealand, Antarctic waters, and International Waters just beyond the New Zealand Exclusive Economic Zone: Latrunculia (Latrunculia) andeepi sp. nov.; Latrunculia (L.) bransfieldi sp. nov.; Latrunculia (L.) morrisoni sp. nov.; Latrunculia (L.) gracilis sp. nov.; Latrunculia (L.) incristata sp. nov.; Latrunculia (L.) kiwi sp. nov.; Latrunculia (L.) nelumbo sp. nov.; Latrunculia (L.) magistra sp. nov.; Latrunculia (L.) robertsoni sp. nov.; Latrunculia (L.) prendens sp. nov.; Latrunculia (L.) toufieki sp. nov.; Latrunculia (L.) variornata sp. nov.; Latrunculia (Biannulata) macquariensis sp. nov., Latrunculia (B.) alvarezae sp. nov., and Latrunculia (L.) tutu† sp. nov.
Due to the wide ranging nature of this review, which includes new systematic arrangements for the globally distributed genus Latrunculia, it is appropriate to extend the study to include two other taxa with representatives in New Zealand and further afield in New Caledonia and the Atlantic Ocean (Iceland, Azores Archipelago, and Southwest Brazil). Latrunpagoda gen. nov. is established for species whose anisodiscorhabds are characterised by multiple whorls of spines and/or palmate flanges, as first described in the early Eocene New Zealand species, L. oamaruensis† Hinde & Holmes, 1892. Two living species and a single fossil Atlantic species have been transferred to this new genus: Latrunculia multirotalis Topsent 1927 and L. tetraverticillata Mothes, Campos, Eckert & Lerner, 2008, from the Azores and Brazil, respectively, and Iceland fossil species Latrunpagoda icelandica† gen. et sp. nov., exemplified in Bukry (1979, Fig. 60F). The enigmatic Latrunculia crenulata Lévi, 1993, from deep waters off New Caledonia, is reviewed and a new genus Latrundiabolo gen. nov. established for this monotypic genus.