Date of Award

Spring 1993

Document Type



Life & Environmental Sciences

First Advisor

John Addis

Second Advisor

Rev. Joseph Harrington

Third Advisor

Rev. Daniel Hillen


Taxonomically, sponges belong to the Phylum Porifera. The name Porifera (from the Latin porus, pore) was coined in the mid-nineteenth century by R.E. Grant to designate the phylum of these simple animals. The Phylum Porifera is divided into three classes. Freshwater sponges belong to the Class Demospongiae, comprising 95% of total sponge species (Pearse and Buchsbaum 1987). This class is defined by its skeletal structure which may consist of horny fibers (spongin), siliceous spicules (not triaxon), or both. Of the eight orders, freshwater sponges belong to the Order Haplosclerina, consisting of monaxon spicules and spongin. Most freshwater sponges belong to the Family Spongillidae while a few belong to the recently described family, the Metaniidae (Frost 1991). The Spongillidae consists of 125 species, 25 of which have been identified in the U.S.. While much work and study has been carried out on marine sponges, there has been less study of freshwater sponges, with little or no study of sponges indigenous to Montana. The present study will attempt to provide a preliminary focus on three aspects of freshwater sponges in this area. My main objectives focus on laying a foundation for future studies in morphology, cell dissociation and culture, histocompatibility, and to work out basic procedures in each section. Since this thesis encompasses three distinct sections, each section will be considered separately.