Scientia Marina, Vol 63, No S1 (1999)

Meiofauna communities from the Straits of Magellan and the Beagle Channel


https://doi.org/10.3989/scimar.1999.63s1123

G. C. Chen
1Marine Biology Section, Department of Biology, University of Gent, Belgium

R. L. Herman
1Marine Biology Section, Department of Biology, University of Gent - Science Policy Administration, Belgium

M. Vincx
1Marine Biology Section, Department of Biology, University of Gent, Belgium

Abstract


Meiofauna from 20 stations (ranging between 8 and 550 m) in the Magellan Straits and the Beagle Channel revealed 28 small sized taxa of higher categories including the temporary meiofauna. Nematoda, Copepoda Harpacticoidea and Polychaeta occurred in all samples; Turbellaria, Bivalvia, Kinorhyncha and Ostracoda were regularly present. Nematodes represented between 68% and 94% of the meiofauna at each station, followed by the copepods (2.3% to 14.5%) and polychaetes (1.1% to 11.5%). Maximal total density, 9700 individuals 10 cm-2, was found in the surroundings of Picton Island, while the mean abundance per station was 3374 individuals 10 cm-2. The vertical pattern within the sediment showed that 87% of meiofauna components concentrated in the upper 0-5 cm sediment layers and 13% in the lower ( > 5cm) layers. More than 95% of copepods, as well as the temporary meiofauna occurred in the top 5 cm layers. The proportion of nematodes and copepods shows opposite trends in the vertical distribution. Multivariate analysis using the total density and the 10 `true´ meiofauna taxa densities discriminates between communities in the Straits of Magellan and the Beagle Channel area. Meiofaunal density was much higher in the Beagle Channel, but the diversity was lower than that in the Straits of Magellan. The Southern Magellan meiofauna communities are compared with those found at the Antarctic Peninsula and in the Weddell Sea (high Antarctic). It is considered that hydrodynamic features (tidal currents with strong winds), geographical characteristics, together with sediment composition are the key parameters structuring the meiofauna community in the Straits of Magellan and in the Beagle Channel.

Keywords


Meiofauna; Density; Community; Straits of Magellan; Beagle Channel; Antarctic

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