Small Scale Study: Classification of freshwater sponges in Ireland

Small Scale Study: Classification of freshwater sponges in Ireland

Summary: A recent small scale study was initiated by the EPA to classify taxonomically the sponge collection housed at the Environmental Protection Agency’s Regional Inspectorate in Kilkenny.

Published: 2013

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Filesize: 4,612KB

Format: pdf

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The main objective of the project was to classify taxonomically the sponge collection housed at the Environmental Protection Agency’s Regional Inspectorate in Kilkenny.


Despite their role in filtering water, no significant work on Irish freshwater sponges has been published since 1920. The Porifera is a group (phylum) that includes some species that are difficult to identify: they are regularly encountered by freshwater biologists but the taxonomic expertise to identify them has been lacking at national level. Among the research recommendations of the Freshwater Working Group of the National Platform for Biodiversity Research is the production of national inventories for less well-known freshwater taxa such as freshwater sponges and an update on their distribution.


As part of an overall project on sponges in southern Irish rivers and streams, 266 sample slide preparations, as well as one from a canal, were permanently mounted, photographed and species identified. The samples had been collected during biological monitoring surveys carried out in the period 1984 to 2012. Species could be identified from the sample material at 230 different sites in 164 rivers.