Scientia Marina, Vol 63, No S1 (1999)

Polychaetes of the soft bottoms of the Straits of Magellan collected during the Italian oceanographic cruise in February-March 1991

María Cristina Gambi
Stazione Zoologica “Anton Dohrn”, Laboratorio di Ecologia del Benthos, Italy

Simone Mariani
Stazione Zoologica “Anton Dohrn”, Laboratorio di Ecologia del Benthos, Italy


Species composition, distribution and biogeography of polychaetes collected from the soft bottoms of the Straits of Magellan (South America) in February-March 1991 are reported. In 16 benthic samples, collected with different tools (Charcot and triangular dredges, van Veen grab), a total of 1132 individuals belonging to 119 taxa of polychaetes were collected; only 49 of the taxa found have been determined at species level. Eighteen species were recorded for the first time in the Straits of Magellan. Species richness was relatively high considering both the number of individuals collected, and the taxa known from previous studies on the area (182 species). The biogeographical analysis, conducted only on the 49 taxa classified at the species level, showed the dominance of Magellan-Antarctic-Subantarctic species (M-An-S 50%), followed by Magellan-American (M-Am 14%), Magellan-Antarctic (M-An 12%), Magellan-Subantarctic (M-S 6%), Cosmopolitans (C 10%), and also by a few species with disjunct distribution (D 8%). Values of the Sørensen similarity index among stations were very low (below 0.30) with a few exceptions. Both number of species and of individuals were higher in the Atlantic sector of the Straits, especially at some stations characterized by heterogeneous mixed sediments (gravels and pebbles) and biogenic debris (mollusc thanatocoenosis). The high number of species recorded, coupled with low similarity values among stations, suggests that the soft bottoms of the Straits of Magellan show, at medium scale, a highly diversified mosaic of different biotopes. This can be due to various factors which are expected to vary along the wide geographic area investigated, such as the wide bathymetric range sampled, the type of sampling gears used, and last but not least the occurrence of many different environmental situations along the Straits.


Polychaetes; soft bottoms; biogeography; distribution; Straits of Magellan; South America; Subantarctic region

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Copyright (c) 1999 Consejo Superior de Investigaciones Científicas (CSIC)

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