Variability at multiple spatial scales in intertidal and subtidal macrobenthic communities in a fjord with glaciers, Magellanic Subantarctic ecoregion, Chile

Bahamonde Mihovilovic, Francisco; Rodriguez Provoste, Juan Pablo; Rosenfeld, Sebastian; Mendez, Fabio; Lopez-Farran, Zambra; Gerard, Karin; Mansilla, Andres

Keywords: environmental heterogeneity, marine invertebrates, macroalgae, spatial scales, macrobenthic communities, Glacial influence


It has been observed in high-latitude marine environments of the Southern Hemisphere that the variability in the ecological patterns of macrobenthic communities show variations at different spatial scales (i.e. cm to km), mainly influenced by environmental stress gradients. We examined macrobenthic communities of intertidal and subtidal habitats in a glacial fjord using taxonomic, ecological and oceanographic approaches, estimating vertical and horizontal variation using a nested design with different spatial scales ranging from centimeters to kilometers (quadrats, patches, shore and sites respectively). We found that vertical patterns in taxon richness and community structure were significant in both habitats. These patterns also showed horizontal variability at different spatial scales, becoming more pronounced at smaller scales (quadrats). The dominant taxa in the intertidal (macroalga) and subtidal (macroinvertebrate) communities also exhibited a scale-dependent distribution pattern, indicating that the greatest horizontal variation occurs at small spatial scales. Annual and opportunistic green algae such as Ulva intestinalis and Cladophora flexuosa were dominant in the intertidal, while the dominant taxa in the subtidal were the filter-feeding bivalve Aulacomya atra and the suspensivorous hydrozoan Symplectoscyphus marionensis. The results were related to biological interactions and local abiotic factors characteristic of an estuarine system influenced by glaciers, with lower salinity and temperature and higher turbidity in sites close to glaciers. The information generated on diversity patterns is very relevant and can serve as a baseline in the evaluation of ecological patterns of shallow macrobenthic communities in environmental gradients influenced by glaciers in the Magellanic Subantarctic ecoregion.

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Fecha de publicación: 2022
URL: 10.1016/j.pocean.2022.102879