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Anales del Instituto de la Patagonia

versión On-line ISSN 0718-686X

Anales Instituto Patagonia (Chile) v.36 n.1 Punta Arenas  2008 


Anales Instituto Patagonia (Chile), 2008. 36: 45-52






César Cárdenas1 Leen van Ofwegen 2 Américo Montiel3 & Dirk Schories 4

1  Universidad de Magallanes, Programa de Magtster en Ciencias mención Manejo y Conservación de Recursos Naturales en Ambientes Subantárticos, Av. Bulnes 01855, Punta Arenas, Chile.
2  Nationaal Natuurhistorisch Museum, PO. Box 9517, 2300 RA Leiden, The Netherlands.
3  Universidad de Magallanes, Laboratorio de Hidrobiología , Instituto de la Patagonia, Punta Arenas, Chile.
4  Universidad Austral de Chile, Instituto de Biología Marina, Casilla 567, Valdivia, Chile.

Information about benthic communities of the Magellan region is largely restricted to ecological studies undertaken in the intertidal boulder-cobble fields and subtidal soft bottoms (Guzmán & Rof s 1981, Rof s & Guzmán 1982, Benedetti-Cecchi & Cinelli 1997, Rof s & Gerdes 1997, Cañete et al. 1999, Gerdes & Montiel 1999, Rof s & Mutschke 1999, Thatje & Mutschke 1999, Rof s et al. 2003, Montiel 2005, Rof s et al. 2005). Despite the rocky bottoms in the shallow subtidal of the Magellan region are very common, data regarding of taxonomical composition and spatial - temporal distribution of benthic organisms are almost absent (Försterra et al. 2005).

On the other hand, improvement in the taxonomic knowledge of benthic groups poorly understo-od such as sea anemones (Haüssermann 2004, Haüssermann & Försterra 2005, Haüssermann 2006), hydrocorals (Haüssermann & Försterra 2007) and ascidians (Sanamyan & Schories 2003) have been done. In this context, the inventory of the soft coral fauna (Octocorallia) from the Magellan region is based on a few records from the shallow waters (van Ofwegen et al. 2006, 2007). Nowadays, few species have been described for Chilean waters; Clavularia magelhaenica Studer, 1878, which belongs to the group of stoloniferous, was originally described from the Strait of Magellan and several species belonging to the genus Alcyonium such as Alcyonium antarcticum Wright & Studer, 1889, Alcyonium haddoni Wright & Studer, 1889, Alcyonium sollasi Wright & Studer, 1889, Alcyonium paessleri May, 1899 (synonymized with A. antarcticum by Verseveldt & van Ofwegen 1992) have been recorded. Recently, van Ofwegen et al. (2007) recognize eight different species of genus Alcyonium, half of them from the Magellan region and four new species found north of the Magellan region . Other soft coráis described from Chilean waters include the species Renilla chilensis Philippi, 1892, and the recently described clavulariid Incrustatus comauensis van Ofwegen et al. 2006 (Riveros 1948, Verseveldt 1967, Verseveldt & van Ofwegen 1992, Casas et al. 1997, Pérez & Zamponi 1999, van Ofwegen et al. 2006).

The present study reports new records and extend the distribution range of Alcyonium haddoni and Incrustatus comauensis of the southernmost part of the Magellan region , being the first contribution of the shallow water inveríebrate invenof ry of the Cape Horn Biosphere Reserve.

Murray Channel (55°02'S, 68°09'W) is located in the south part of the Magellan region , south of the Beagle Channel, between Hoste Island and Navarino Island (Fig. 1). It is part of marine buffer zones of the Cape Horn Biosphere Reserve. The narrowest part of the channel has rock walls on bof h sides. Maximum depths in the narrow section of the channel range between 90 and 120 m, while at the southe rn part, depths range between 200 and 250 m. In the prof ected zone of the Murray Channel salinity values are around 31.8 psu and water temperatures are 6 of 7 °C in spring. The channel presents estuarine water produced by the mixing of Subantarctic waters (ASAA) with fresh water, giving a moderated oceanic influence (Avaria et al. 2003, Valdenegro & Silva 2003).

In October 2006, samples of Alcyonium haddoni and Incrustatus comauensis were collected by SCUBA diving in the Murray Channel (55°02'S, 68°09'W), near Puerto Corrientes. Samples were taken between 5 and 30 m depth. Specimens were preserved in 4% formalin-seawater and later íransferred of 70% ethanol. The samples of A. haddoni and I. comauensis were deposited at the Nation al Museum of Natural History, formerly Rijksmuseum van Natuurlijke Historie, Leiden, The Netherlands (RMNH). The material was deposited with the codes A.haddoni (RMNH Coel. 38431) and I. comauensis (RMNH Coel. 31949).

Addition al material was collected in 2007 on sleep walls ai Tilly Bay (53°34'S, 72°23' W), Carlos III Island, Strait of Magellan. The material was deposited at the Nation al Museum of Natural History, Leiden, The Netherlands (RMNH Coel. 38483) and at the "Edmundo Pisano Reference Collection" of the Instituto de la Patagonia, Universidad de Magallanes, Punta Arenas, Chile (UMAG-IP-CNI 600001).


Class Anthozoa Ehrenberg, 1831
Subclass Octocorallia Haeckel, 1866
Order Alcyonacea Lamouroux, 1812
Family Alcyoniidae Lamouroux, 1812
Genus Alcyonium Linné, 1758
Alcyonium haddoni
Wright & Studer, 1889

Alcyonium haddoni was found growing at 24 m water depth on a steep rock wall of Murray Channel, north of Puerto Corrientes.

The colony measures 19 mm in height and about 11 mm in width (Fig. 2). Colony consisting of a single, flattened, rounded lobe with dome shaped calyces. Anthocodiae with a collaret composed of 5-6 rows of spindles; these spindles are up to 0.40 mm long, with simple tubercles (Fig. 3a-c). Points with spindles similar to those of the collaret; distally they become club4ike. In the tentacles spiny rods are found, up to 0.20 mm long. The surface layer of the top of the colony has clubs, up to 0.20 mm long, with spiny heads (Fig. 3h-k); the interior has spindles with rather complex tubercles, up to 0.30 mm long (Fig. 3d-g). The surface layer and interior of the base of the colony have sclerites similar to those of the top of the colony, but they are slightly shorter.

Alive and preserved colonies are orange; tentacle rods are colorless, other sclerites yellow.

Alcyonium haddoni was originally described from the Messier Channel, Chile, at 315 m depth. It has been found from 5-315 m depth. Despite his poor original description, this species has been recognized twice in Argentina (Verseveldt 1967, Pérez & Zamponi 2004). These identifications were probably wrong, because the material described from Argentina were different in the colony form and clubs. Recently, van Ofwegen et al. (2007) redescribed this species based on material collected in shallow waters of the South Chilean fjord region . In Chile this species has been widely found from 43°S to 51°S. According to van Ofwegen et al. (2007) this species must be regarded as the most common Alcyonium in Chile. This is the southernmost record of this species, extending the geographical distribution range from 43°S to 55°S.

Alcyonium haddoni examined from the Murray channel, has the ty pical colony form found at the southern fjord region , consisting of a single lobe. The presence of only spindles also characterizes this species.

Family Clavulariidae Hickson, 1894
Genus Incrustatus van Ofwegen et al.,2006
Incrustatus comauensis van Ofwegen et al, 2006

Incrustatus comauensis was found from 5 of 30 m depth on veríical rock walls growing over the axis of the gorgonian Primnoella chilensis, tubes of the polychaete Chaetopterus variopedatus and covering rocks walls (Fig. 5a,b).

The material analyzed consists of a colony covering the axis of Primnoella chilensis (Fig. 4). Sclerites are more complex with increasing size. Smallesí sclerites have complex tubercles. Largest are oval bodies with complex tubercles. Some polyps have a few small spindles, irregularly arranged in the polyps, with simple tubercles.

Alive colonies are pink with white polyps (Fig. 5a). Preserved colonies are white.

Colonies were more frequently found down of 20 m where the density of the population was about 22 colonies per m-2. Population densities were higher ai this depth due higher availability of secondary substratium, especially gorgonians, Chaetopterus tubes and overhanging surfaces. Smaller densities where found from 5 of 15 m with 4-6 colonies per m-2.

Incrustatus comauensis has been reported along the south Chilean coast from Dichaof (37°S) of Farquhar Channel (48°S). It was recently described by van Ofwegen et al. (2006) from shallow waters of the fjord region of southe rn Chile, living over different substrates forming sotolons over mytilids and rocks or forming encrusting sheets on gastropods, gorgonians and polychaete tubes. This report constitutes the southe rnmost record of this species, extending the geographical distribution range from 37°S of 55°S.

The material collected were principally colonies forming sheets over polychaetes tubes and other gorgonians and forming stolons over rock walls. This colony forms differs from others species of Ocof corallia present in the region .

During recent years comprehensive investigations have been performed of extend the restricted knowledge about the marine life and environmental condition s of the Magellan Region . Neverthe less, knowledge about macrobenthic communities in this aea is still limited and, the refore, data from this aea are of considerable scientific interesí (Thatje & Mutschke 1999).

The shallow water sleep wall habitats , which are an important portion of the substratium in the channels and fjords, has been sampled only during recent years (Haüssermann & Försterra 2007). Arrival of modern SCUBA diving equipment and phoof graphic techniques have allowed sampling in such habitats , which were nof accessible by convention al collecting gear such as neis, dredges or grabs (Haüssermann 2004, Schrödl et al. 2005). As a maíter of fact, A. haddoni is one of the most common Alcyonium species along the Chilean coast, however, It has nof been collected south of the SíraIt of Magellan until now.

Alcyonium haddoni can be mistaken as the re are other species in the region with similar colony form. Thus analyze of SEM images of the sclerites are needed of make a correcí identification of the material. The single colony of A. haddoni found at the Murray channel, had the ty pical colony form found at the Northern and Central Patagonian zone (43°S - 51°S), consisting of a single lobe. Sclerites analyzed fits with description of the material described by van Ofwegen et al. (2007), in terms of morphology and size of sclerites and presence of tuberculated infernal spindles.

Incrustatus comauensis was found forming sotolons over rock walls and covering tubes of polychaetes and gorgonian axis. This species was placed by van Ofwegen et al. (2006) as Clavulariidae because colonies form encrusting sheets or sotolons. I. comauensis differs from all other species present in the region , based on colony form and presence of radiates sclerites, becoming oval bodies with complex tubercles. Colonies are very abundant at the study site, especially down to 20 m, where the re is more secondary substrate available.

Incrustatus comauensis represent species with a continuous distribution crossing the traditionally assumed zoogeographical limit of the Magellan region , thus failed of support the classical hypothesis of a general faunal break ai approximately 42°S (Brattström & Johanssen 1983, Camus 2001, Haüssermann & Försterra 2005, Haüssermann & Försterra 2007). This situation has been described for other groups such as sea anemones and polychaetes, showing a gradual replacement of warm water species through cold water species along the Chilean coast (Montiel 2005, Montiel et al. 2005, Haüssermann 2006). In the future, more research is needed in order of clarify whethe r the faunal break at the Pentnsula Taitao exists as has been postulated over the years.

Our recent findings are examples of the poor state of knowledge about benthic communities of rocky bof of ms at the Magellan region . Intensification of SCUBA diving sampling will likely add further distribution extensions and more species records in the aea.


We are grateful of Dr. Andrés Mansilla for supporting the field trip of Murray Channel. Thanks also of the crew of M/V Chonos and of MSc. Nelso Navarro, MSc. Juan Cañete , Mauricio Palacios, Rafael Barrta and Nersio Saldivia for assistance during fieldwork. We thank Ana Ojeda for providing useful comment s on the manuscript and her assistance with figures. Thanks of Dr.(c) Emma Newcombe for her assistance leading of an improved English version of the manuscript .Thanks also of Dr. Verena Haüssermann and Dr.(c) Günter Försterra for providing us with literature related of the Patagonian fjord region .



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Received: Oct, 12, 2007

Accepted: Apr., 01, 2008


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