Scientia Marina, Vol 80, No 4 (2016)

Predation and anthropogenic impact on community structure of boulder beaches

Marcela Aldana
Centro de Investigación e Innovación para el Cambio Climático (CiiCC), Facultad de Ciencias, Universidad Santo Tomás , Chile

Diego Maturana
Departamento de Ecología y Biodiversidad, Facultad de Ecología y Recursos Naturales, Universidad Andrés Bello , Chile

José Pulgar , Chile

M. Roberto García-Huidobro
Centro de Investigación e Innovación para el Cambio Climático (CiiCC), Facultad de Ciencias, Universidad Santo Tomás , Chile


Predator impacts on intertidal community structure have been studied for rocky platforms, but intertidal boulder fields, a habitat with a greater extension and heterogeneity, have not yet been considered. Keeping in mind that disturbances are considered an important force in determining intertidal habitat diversity, the aims of this work were to describe and quantify boulder field community structure and to assess boulder field community dynamics by proposing possible food webs, taking into consideration predatory and anthropogenic impacts. These aims were achieved by installing predator-exclusion cages outfitted with rocks that were monitored monthly over one year in two study zones, a Management and Exploitation Area for Benthic Resources (MEABR, Playa Chica) and open-access area (OAA, Playa Grande). For both study zones, juveniles were the dominant observed ontogenetic state and invertebrate richness and density were higher inside exclusion cages. Furthermore, the MEABR had a differentiated impact on community structure and dynamics in comparison with the OAA. In conclusion, the roles played by boulder fields in intertidal diversity, especially in recruitment and as a nursery zone, are important to consider in management plans.


Management and Exploitation Areas for Benthic Resources; intertidal zone; boulder beaches; community structure; food web

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