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The zoogeography of algae-associated peracarids along the Pacific coast of Chile

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Abstract Aim To describe the zoogeography of the algae-associated peracarid crustaceans from exposed rocky shores along the SE-Pacific. Location  Chile, 18° S to 42° S. Methods  A standardized sampling programme was used at all sites. Samples of macroalgae were taken at twenty sites distributed along the entire study area. Quantitative samples ( = 6 replicates of 8 cm surface area each) of calcareous and non-calcareous red algae were taken in the low intertidal, preserved immediately in 4%-formalin and washed over a 0.2-mm mesh before sorting. All peracarid individuals were sorted, identified to the species level and then categorized in separate functional groups according to their feeding habits. Graphical representations of species replacement within each functional group along the latitudinal gradient are provided. A classification analysis employing the unweighted paired group method using arithmetic average (UPGMA) was conducted in order to reveal the main zoogeographical zones. Results  A total of forty epifaunal peracarid species was found. A gradual replacement of species within different functional groups (grazing and suspension-feeding species) was observed in the central region (. 26° S−37° S). In this central region, species with northern and those with southern distribution overlapped, while other species were only found here, resulting in high species richness. The number of species/site/algal species in the northern (north of . 25.5° S) and southern region (south of . 38.5° S) was considerably lower than in the central region. The distribution of most grazing peracarids showed a more continuous pattern than that of suspension-feeding amphipods. The distribution of the remaining species (predators, scavengers, deposit-feeders, unknowns) was scattered along the examined sites. The cluster analysis for the epifaunal peracarid assemblage confirmed the separation of a northern and southern zone connected by a central (transitional) zone between . 26° S and . 37° S. Similar zonation patterns have been found by most other studies on the zoogeography of the Chilean coast, although little agreement exists about the exact limits of this transitional zone. It is discussed that the distribution limits of algae-associated peracarids (and other macroinvertebrates) – particularly in the transitional zone – may show interannual variations as a result of varying oceanographic conditions. The large affinity of the algae-associated peracarid fauna from the central and southern Chilean coast to those of other regions indicates that dispersal may be facilitated by rafting with floating algae transported in the Antarctic Circumpolar Current. Main conclusions  The zoogeographical analysis of algae-associated peracarids confirms the existence of a northern and a southern zone connected by an extensive transitional zone. General biology, habitat use and the abundant presence of dispersal vectors such as floating macroalgae may affect the zoogeography of species living in transitional zones with strong interannual variations in current regimes. In these areas, species associated with substrata of high dispersal potential may show different distribution patterns than species inhabiting other substrata.


En el presente se estudió la zoogeografía de crustáceos peracáridos asociados a algas a lo largo de la costa rocosa expuesta del Pacifico-SE (Chile, 18°S a 42°S). Se realizó un programa de muestreo estandarizado, recolectándose macroalgas en 20 sitios distribuidos a lo largo del área de estudio. Se encontró un total de 40 especies de peracaridos epifaunales, perteneciendo principalmente a los grupos funcionales de ramoneadores y de suspensivoros. En la zona central (∼ 26° S a ∼ 37° S) se observó un reemplazo gradual de especies para cada uno de los grupos funcionales estudiados. En esta región transicional, especies de distribución norte y sur pueden ser encontradas. En adición, varias otras especies de peracáridos fueron recolectadas únicamente en esta región, lo que resulta en una alta riqueza de especies para esta zona. El número de especies sitio−1 tipo de alga−1 en la región norte (al norte de ∼ 25.5° S) y en la región sur (al sur de ∼ 38.5° S) fue considerablemente menor que el observado en la región central. La distribución de la mayoría de los peracáridos con un hábito ramoneador mostró un patrón mas uniforme que el de los anfípodos suspensivoros. La distribución de especies pertenecientes al resto de los grupos funcionales (depredadores, carroñeros, depositivoros, habito desconocido) fue dispersa a lo largo de los sitios examinados. El análisis zoogeográfico de peracáridos asociados a algas confirma la existencia de una zona norte y otra sur conectadas por una extensa zona transicional. La biología general, el uso del hábitat y la presencia común de vectores de dispersión tales como macroalgas flotantes podrían afectar la zoogeografía de aquellas especies que habitan en zonas de transición con fuertes variaciones interanuales en el régimen de corrientes. En estas áreas, especies asociadas con substratos que presenten un alto potencial de dispersión podrían mostrar un patrón de distribución diferente al mostrado por especies que habitan otros tipos de substratos.
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Keywords: Biogeografía; Biogeography; Epifauna; Macroalga; Peracarida; costa expuesta; epifauna; exposed shore; intertidal zone; macroalgae; peracarida; zona intermareal

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: Facultad Ciencias del Mar, Universidad Católica del Norte, Coquimbo, Chile

Publication date: 2002-08-01

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