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Revista chilena de historia natural

Print version ISSN 0716-078X

Abstract

SELLANES, JAVIER; NEIRA, CARLOS  and  QUIROGA, EDUARDO. Composition, structure and energy flux of the meiobenthos off central Chile. Rev. chil. hist. nat. [online]. 2003, vol.76, n.3, pp.401-415. ISSN 0716-078X.  http://dx.doi.org/10.4067/S0716-078X2003000300006.

The general objective of this study was to determine the structure of metazoan meiofauna (at a high taxonomic level) and to estimate its role in the energy flux of the benthic sub-system off Concepción, Chile (~3630' S). Samples were collected in May and November 1997 and May 1998 at five sites located at the: inner Bay of Concepción (28 m), bay-mouth (35 m), inner-shelf (64 m), mid-shelf (88 m) and outer-shelf (120 m). The study period coincided with the El Niño 1997-1998 (EN) event. The diversity of the meiobenthos was low, but density and biomass were moderate to high compared with average values reported for muddy sub-littoral environments elsewhere. Nematodes were the dominant group, with over 95 % (103­104 ind 10 cm­2 ) of the total density, followed by copepods and polychaetes. Highest densities and biomasses were always found at the bay-mouth, followed by the inner-bay and the inner-shelf, while the lowest values occurred at the mid- and outer-shelf. Off Concepción, the meiofauna plays an important role in the energy flux through the benthic sub-system. Indeed, the meiofauna could be converting to biomass and remineralizing in the inner-bay and bay-mouth up to 36 and 45 %, respectively, of the organic carbon reaching the sediments from the water column.

Keywords : meiofauna; secondary production; energetic flux; El Niño; central Chile.

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