"By any standards of modern publishing, these two volumes are a major contribution to marine biology. It is a triumph of international cooperation taking six years of work by an extraordinary array of 36 researchers from no less than 16 countries. The coverage is truly food for thought: 680 genera of living sponges (in 127 families, 25 orders and three classes) and 1,000 genera of fossil sponges (245 families, 30 orders and six 'classes'). These genera have all been revised and refined, as have all families and orders. They are illustrated by 1,200 figures, many of which are full page and all of top quality. The mass of information is staggering. The authors, the editors and the publishers are to be congratulated. Productions of this scope and size are rare. These volumes will be valued by all those who take an interest in these most primitive and ancient, yet successful, of multicellular animals."
(J.E.N. Veron, Australian Institute of Marine Science, March 2002)
"Soaking up the limelight...the editors are well qualified to do this [book]...together they have done an excellent job, making Systema Porifera interesting and accessible to a wider scientific audience then pure sponge taxonomists[...] bibliographies are comprehensive and include many recent reviews...most sections contain an identification key for families and genera - something never previously attempted for Porifera[...]invaluable book."
(Lorraine Berry, Dept. of Invertebrate Zoology, Royal Belgian Institute of Natural Sciences, Brussels, Belgium in Nature, 421, February 2003)
"[...] the two volumes will be an indispensable reference source for any taxonomist or ecologist who needs to put the extensive sponge literature of the past into modern context. More important, these volumes will form the basis (and provide important hypotheses) for future systematic studies, particularly those done using molecular data. As such, Systema Porifera is an essential addition to the reference collection of any university or research institution with zoological programs."
(Science, 299, March 2003)
"It is an invaluable comprehensive work that will enable anyone anywhere in the world interested in sponges to have a handle on where to begin with their studies. The references are well edited by P. Willenz. The remarks are particulary useful [...] Every section is also extremely well illustrated [...] The editors are to be congratulated on their organizational skills [...]The aims set by the editors were daunting but the result is successful. This ensures that Systema Porifera will become an invaluable text for all concerned with sponge biology and those at the beginning of sponge biodiversity projects. It is expensive, but it should become a standard reference for any institutional library or researcher involved with sponges. After so many years without a comprehensive text on sponges this is long overdue; this is a worthwhile publication and excellent value for money." (online in Wiley InterScience DOI: 10.1002/aqc.593)
"[...] magnificent two-volume, 1700+ page guide. Extensive bibliographies [...] are grouped at the beginning of each major section[...] making finding the appropriate literature an easy task. The illustrations are on the whole excellent and range from 19th century drawings from original species descriptions to light and scanning electron micrographs published for the first time. Of interest to biologists in general will be the introductory chapter to Porifera as a whole."
(Greg Rouse, South Australian Museum, Adelaide, Australia in Invertebrate Systematics, 18, 2004)
Research whilst compiling this book has uncovered a fauna about twice the size as that previously published in the literature and consequently Systema Porifera revises and stabilizes the systematics of the phylum to accommodate this new knowledge in a contemporary framework. Practical tools (key illustrations, descriptions of character) are provided to facilitate the assignment of approximately 680 extant and 100 fossil genera.
Systema Porifera is unique making sponge taxonomy widely available at the practical level of classification (genera, families, order). It is a taxonomic revision of sponges and spongiomorphis (such as sphinctozoans and archaeocyathans) based on re-evaluation of type materials and evidence. It is also a practical guide to sponge identification providing descriptions and illustrations of characters and interpretation of their importance to systematics. Systema Porifera addresses many long standing nomenclatural problems and provides a sound baseline for future debate on sponges and their place in time and space.
Systema Porifera describes 3 classes, 7 subclasses, 24 orders, 127 families and 682 valid genera of extant sponges (with over 1600 nominal generic names and an additional 500 invalid names treated). Treatment of the fossil fauna is less comprehensive or critical, although 6 classes, 30 orders, 245 families and 998 fossil genera are mentioned. Keys to all recent and many fossil taxa are provided.
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