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Revista chilena de historia natural

Print version ISSN 0716-078X


SIEMENS, ROCÍO A.; MUDGE, STEPHEN M.  and  CANCINO, JUAN M.. The effect of physical and chemical parameters on the macroinfaunal community structure of San Vicente bay, Chile. Rev. chil. hist. nat. [online]. 2001, vol.74, n.2, pp.429-444. ISSN 0716-078X.

San Vicente bay is a heavily industrialised bay located in central Chile, which has a sand beach extending from an area of recreational use in the south to an area of industrial use and discharge in the north. A survey of the macrofauna in the intertidal zone revealed a non-homogeneous distribution; a maximum of five invertebrate species were found with all five only occurring in one of six transects down the beach. The density ranged from 0 to 188 individuals m-2, with the highest density at the recreational end. The most common species, Emerita analoga (Stimpson), was chosen to study the macrofaunal response to beach morphodynamics, physicochemical parameters and metal concentrations. The E. analoga distribution was not significantly correlated with the results of the physicochemical analyses of interstitial water (pH, temperature, salinity and oxygen concentrations). However, oxygen concentrations decreased to 3 ml O2 l-1 in the lower intertidal closest to the recreational area where the highest numbers of intertidal macrofauna were observed. Analyses of 12 metals in the sediments showed three distinct distribution patterns across the beach in which the metals could be classified: a representative metal was chosen for each distribution. The concentration of tin ranged from 3.4 to 11.58 mg g-1DW sediment, representing the `wave' pattern. The concentration of cadmium ranged from 0 to 0.23 mg g-1DW sediment, representing the `banded' pattern. The concentration of chromium ranged from 1.97 to 3.18 mg g-1DW sediment, representing the `intermediate' pattern of metal distribution. The E. analoga distribution was not significantly correlated with the concentrations of any single metal, although multivariate statistical analysis indicated that Sn and Fe had the largest negative effect and Mn had the largest positive one. The distribution of E. analoga across the sandy beach of San Vicente bay was significantly correlated with the relative tidal range (RTR) beach morphodynamic parameter. There was also a significant linear relationship between E. analoga and 1/slope parameter. Although there was a significant correlation between the physical parameters of the beach and E. analoga distribution, these results should not be taken as conclusive for we must not exclude other possible factors, including chemical ones, which were not measured in this study. Absence of the amphipod Orchestoidea tuberculata Nicolet at the high water mark in the industrial zone can be explained by destruction of habitat due to direct human disturbance

Keywords : intertidal macrofauna; central Chile; sandy beaches; beach morphodynamics; interstitial water; heavy metals.

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