The present atlas provides the first complete overview of the freshwater sponges found from Algeria to the Cape and is therefore a historical document. It not only summarizes the knowledge of spongillofauna of the African continent but provides new as well as historical illustrations and distribution maps for all the species, most of which are endemic to Africa.
A comparative analysis based on original diagnoses, holotypes and materials from historical collections is performed to supply detailed descriptions on 58 African species of the suborder Spongillina (order Haplosclerida) belonging to the families Spongillidae (9 genera), Malawispongiidae (2 genera), Metaniidae (1 genus) Potamolepidae (4 genera) and 1 incertae sedis genus.
In view of the rapid decline of the biodiversity of Africa's freshwater fauna as a result of climate change and other man-made influences, this publication will remain a milestone for the knowledge on the distribution of these animals. As filter feeders, they are extremely subject to even low levels of pollution and may therefore constitute an ideal gauge for the evaluation of the quality of surface waters.