Macrobenthic animal assemblages of the continental shelf off Chile (22°to 42°S)

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A quantitative study of macrobenthos was carried out on three transects on the shelf and continental slope off Chile (22° to 42°S; from 100 to 2000m water depth) within and beneath the oxygen minimum zone (OMZ). Macrobenthos mean densities ranged from 104 to 13 808 ind m-2, with highest values off Concepcion (36°S), where highest chloroplastic pigment equivalents were also measured. Polychaetes were the numerically dominant group in all transects and depths, followed by peracarid crustaceans.Species richness and diversity correlated with observed changes in bottom-water oxygen concentrations and sediment-bound pigments. Our results show that the shelf macrobenthic communities were negatively affected by low oxygen. The non-metric multidimensional scaling (nMDS) analysis evidenced depth related station groups which may be related to the different environments provided by the water massesinvolved. Indeed, the depth ranges of station groups with their specific species inventories coincide quite well with the boundaries of the three important water masses in the region, the Equatorial Subsurface Water (50m to 400m depth), the Antarctic Intermediate Water (400 to 1200m depth), and the Pacific Deep Water (< 1200m depth).

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Palma, P. , Quiroga, E. , Gallardo, V. A. , Arntz, W. , Gerdes, D. , Schneider, W. and Hebbeln, D. (2005): Macrobenthic animal assemblages of the continental shelf off Chile (22°to 42°S) , Journal of the marine biological association of the united kingdom, 85 , pp. 233-245 .

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