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The relationship between marine fronts and fish diversity in the Patagonian Shelf Large Marine Ecosystem

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Abstract Aim 

To evaluate the relationship between marine fronts and (1) fish diversity patterns, (2) fish biomass distribution, and (3) fish assemblage structure. Location 

Patagonian Shelf, Southwestern Atlantic Ocean. Methods 

Three main frontal systems and eight nearby zones (frontal vs. non-frontal areas) were compared. An extensive fishery database, obtained during an a priori sampling scheme (spatial resolution 1 × 1) from 1978 to 1979, was employed. Analyses of 248 trawling stations were performed using a combination of diversity measures (species richness, Shannon diversity and evenness), biomass analyses and multivariate analyses [nonparametric analysis of similarity (ANOSIM), non-metric multidimensional scaling ordination (NMDS) and similarity percentages (SIMPER)] to evaluate the effect of fronts on fish communities. Results 

In total, 46 fish taxa were identified. Demersal fish diversity increased at the tidal front of Península Valdés but decreased in the frontal zones of the Southern Shelf-Break and Magellan frontal systems. The richness and biomass of pelagic fish were higher at the Península Valdés Tidal Front, while the biomass of demersal fish was higher at its non-frontal counterpart. Fish diversity did not differ consistently along the Northern Shelf-Break Front. However, a higher fish biomass was registered at the non-frontal zone. Demersal and pelagic fish assemblages differed between frontal and non-frontal zones. Main conclusions 

The Patagonian Shelf Large Marine Ecosystem has diverse frontal types that appear to have different effects on fish diversity and assemblage structure. Seasonal (tidal) or permanent fronts have different effects on the parameters analysed, which could be due to productivity–diversity relationships. The Península Valdés Tidal Front, a relatively short temporal scale system, demonstrates a stronger influence on fish diversity, biomass and assemblage structure than the other frontal areas studied. The seasonality of nutrient input owing to frontogenesis, which begins during the austral spring, may play an important role in determining local diversity. At permanent frontal features, diversity decreases when the nutrient availability is high. This is potentially because, when food resources increase, a few species become dominant.

Keywords: Assemblages; Patagonian Shelf; Southwestern Atlantic Ocean; biodiversity; biomass; fish; marine fronts

Document Type: Research Article


Publication date: 2009-11-01

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