Due to its complex hydrological, geomorphological and climatic features, the Chilean fjords region is considered among the most productive areas of the world. The benthic fauna of this region accounts for more than 1600 species showing marked latitudinal biogeographic differences characterizing this as one of the most important hotspot of biodiversity of cold-temperate environments. Despite numerous studies have been conducted to depict the biological characteristics of the fjords, the present situation is strongly unbalanced towards specific taxa. Hence, this study takes into consideration a community approach, highlighting the distribution of six benthic assemblages thriving on vertical walls along the Seno Magdalena fjord (Aysen region). Underwater pictures were used to characterize the trends in abundance and diversity of the main taxa showing distinct responses to salinity and turbidity. Among the less tolerant taxa to high fresh water inputs there are encrusting algae, mainly found in the most external sites lashed by outer currents, far from the estuarine plume. The bathymetric zonation of the assemblages, instead, is characterized by a dense mussel belt in the first 10 m, within a thick layer of lowsalinity, nutrient-enriched waters. Rich assemblages of sponges, brachiopods, gorgonians and scleractinians thrive in deeper, marine, clear waters. The evaluation of the ecological role of benthic species leads both to the definition of potential bioindicator taxa responding to anthropic disturbances and to the promotion of protected areas.

Benthic biodiversity and ecological gradients in the Seno Magdalena (Puyuhuapi Fjord, Chile).

Betti Federico;Bavestrello Giorgio;Bo Marzia;Enrichetti Francesco;
2017

Abstract

Due to its complex hydrological, geomorphological and climatic features, the Chilean fjords region is considered among the most productive areas of the world. The benthic fauna of this region accounts for more than 1600 species showing marked latitudinal biogeographic differences characterizing this as one of the most important hotspot of biodiversity of cold-temperate environments. Despite numerous studies have been conducted to depict the biological characteristics of the fjords, the present situation is strongly unbalanced towards specific taxa. Hence, this study takes into consideration a community approach, highlighting the distribution of six benthic assemblages thriving on vertical walls along the Seno Magdalena fjord (Aysen region). Underwater pictures were used to characterize the trends in abundance and diversity of the main taxa showing distinct responses to salinity and turbidity. Among the less tolerant taxa to high fresh water inputs there are encrusting algae, mainly found in the most external sites lashed by outer currents, far from the estuarine plume. The bathymetric zonation of the assemblages, instead, is characterized by a dense mussel belt in the first 10 m, within a thick layer of lowsalinity, nutrient-enriched waters. Rich assemblages of sponges, brachiopods, gorgonians and scleractinians thrive in deeper, marine, clear waters. The evaluation of the ecological role of benthic species leads both to the definition of potential bioindicator taxa responding to anthropic disturbances and to the promotion of protected areas.
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Utilizza questo identificativo per citare o creare un link a questo documento: https://hdl.handle.net/11567/882594
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