Scientia Marina, Vol 63, No S1 (1999)

The megazoobenthos of the Scotia Arc islands


https://doi.org/10.3989/scimar.1999.63s1171

Ana Ramos
Instituto Español de Oceanografía, Spain

Abstract


Megabenthic epifauna composition and distribution from the Scotia Arc islands based on data collected during the Antarctic summer of 1986-87 is presented. Samples were taken from bottom trawl catches at 345 stations (29 at Shag Rocks, 104 at South Georgia, 8 at the South Sandwich Islands, 93 at the South Orkney Islands, 46 at Elephant Island, and 65 at the South Shetland Islands), from 26 to 643 m depth. Among the most striking features of the faunistic composition of the area, pointed out by multivariate analysis, are the singularity of Shag Rocks, closer to the Magellan region, and of the volcanic South Sandwich Islands, as well as the similarity of South Georgia and the South Orkney Islands and that of the islands nearest to the Antarctic continent, especially Elephant Island and the South Shetlands Islands. This similarity is due to the higher frequency and abundance of the most characteristic taxa in the Antarctic epibenthos, such as sessile suspension feeders (sponges, calcareous bryozoans, pennatulids, crinoids), and motile fauna with a wide variety of trophic strategies (asteroids, holothurians, pycnogonids, large isopods and gammarids). These data confirm the fact that the long-lived suspension-feeder communities, demosponges and hexactinellids, characteristic of the Antarctic epibenthos stretch to the eastern shelf of South Georgia without reaching the north-west of this island, the South Sandwich Islands, and Shag Rocks. Some of the zones with rich communities of sessile filter-feeders, long-lived sponges or reef formations of calcareous bryozoans or serpulids should be proposed as Specially Protected Areas.

Keywords


Megabenthos; composition; distribution; Scotia Arc Islands

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