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Revista chilena de historia natural

Print version ISSN 0716-078X


JARAMILLO, EDUARDO; CONTRERAS, HERALDO  and  QUIJON, PEDRO. Seasonal and interannual variability in population abundances of the intertidal macroinfauna of Queule river estuary, south-central Chile. Rev. chil. hist. nat. [online]. 2001, vol.74, n.2, pp.455-468. ISSN 0716-078X.

Sediment samples were monthly collected at Queule river estuary (ca. 39° S), south-central Chile, from October 1990 to April 1992, and from September 1995 to November 1997 to study temporal variability in population abundances of the macroinfauna inhabiting sandy and muddy-sand intertidal substrates. Sandy sediments had higher percentages of sand particles and lower percentages of mud particles, biogenic aggregates and total organic matter than muddy-sand sediments. The same macroinfaunal species were found at both sites. That macroinfauna was dominated by polychaetes: the spionid Prionospio (Minuspio) patagonica Augener 1923, the capitellid Capitella sp. and the nereid Perinereis gualpensis Jeldes 1963. Other common organisms were the amphipod Paracorophium hartamannorum Andres 1975 and the small bivalve Kingiella chilenica Soot-Ryen 1959. The highest abundances of the total macroinfauna usually ocurred during summer months (January-February). The most abundant species was P. (M.) patagonica (up to 130-140,000 ind m-2 in the muddy-sand sediments). During some months, this species had significantly higher abundances at the muddy-sand sediments. A similar trend is that shown by P. hartmannorum; i.e., significantly higher abundances at the muddy-sand sediments (up to 75,000 ind m-2). During many months, the population abundances of Capitella sp. and K. chilenica were significantly higher at the sandy site. The highest population abundances of Capitella sp. were close to 37,800 ind m-2 (February 1991 and February 1996), while the maximum values for K. chilenica ranged from 13,000 to 14,000 ind m-2 (February 1991 and November 1995, respectively). The population abundances of P. gualpensis (with the exception of the period October 1995-January 1996) were similar at both sites. Interannual comparisons of macroinfaunal abundances carried out for the sandy site showed no significant differences among years for the total macroinfauna and for all the species, but P. gualpensis. No significant differences among years were found for the total macroinfauna, P. (M. ) patagonica, P. gualpensis and P. hartmannorum at the muddy-sand site. On the other hand, the abundances of Capitella sp. and K. chilenica differed significantly among years. Significant differences among months within annual periods were found for the total macroinfauna and species population abundances at the sandy and muddy-sand sites. The temporal variability of the macroinfauna did not have any significant relationship with the temporal variability in sediment characteristics

Keywords : macroinfaunal population abundances; estuarine intertidal flats; south central Chile.

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