Soft-bottom macrobenthic faunal associations in the southern Chilean glacial fjord complex
Keywords:Magellan region, South Patagonian Icefield, Straits of Magellan, community structure, biodiversity
Macrobenthic associations were investigated at 29 sampling stations with a semi-quantitative Agassiz trawl, ranging from the South Patagonian Icefield to the Straits of Magellan in the South Chilean fjord system. A total of 1,895 individuals belonging to 131 species were collected. 19 species belong to colonial organisms, mainly Bryozoa (17 species) and Octocorallia (2 species). The phylum Echinodermata was the most diverse in species number (47 species), with asteroids (25 species) and ophiuroids (13 species) being the best represented within this taxon. Polychaeta was the second dominant group in terms of species richness (46 species). Multidimensional scaling ordination (MDS) separated two station groups, one related to fjords and channels off the South Patagonian Icefield and the second one to stations surrounding the Straits of Magellan. 45 species account for 90% of the dissimilarity between these two groups. These differences can mainly be explained by the influence of local environmental conditions determined by processes closely related to the presence/absence of glaciers. Abiotic parameters such as water depth, type of sediment and chemical features of the superficial sediment were not correlated with the numbers of individuals caught by the Agassiz trawl in each group of sampling stations.
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