The ecological role of brachiopods in the Namuncurá MPA/Burdwood Bank, off southern South America
Extant brachiopods have been very little studied, despite being abundant along the Argentine marine platform and southern areas of the Subantarctic region. In this survey, we examined brachiopod assemblages from the Namuncurá MPA/Burdwood Bank area, off southern South America. The material (n = 1203) was recovered from 43 stations ranging in depth from 50 to 785 m during two oceanographic expeditions. Two species (Liothyrella uva and Terebratella dorsata) together represent 95% of the total abundance, with no significant decrease in body size over depths of 800 and 400 m respectively. A third species (Magellania venosa) was found in very small quantities shallower than 200 m, and with a large variation in size. There is a greater proportion (63.37%) of brachiopods with epibionts/encrusters, mainly bryozoans and tubiferous polychaetes, which are more common on the ventral valves of larger specimens, and mainly at depths shallower than 400 m. It was also observed that empty shells serve as a microhabitat for micromolluscs, mainly bivalves. The brachiopods showed signs of drilling predation (8.74%), but they were also prey for other unidentified predators. These predators left a different kind of damage concentrated around the shell margins (19.20%), which should be the subject of further investigation. Based on these results, it is interpreted that brachiopods from the Namuncurá MPA/Burdwood Bank appear to play an important role in the biotic and trophic interactions of benthic Subantarctic marine fauna, whether acting as substrates, refuges, or food.
KeywordsSW Atlantic Argentinean shelf Subantarctic region Biotic interactions
This study was carried out jointly with members of CICTERRA and IDEA, CONICET, and the National University of Córdoba. The authors wish to thank the RV A.R.A. Puerto Deseado and its crew for their help during activities on board, especially Daniel Roccatagliata (Scientific Head, 2016) and Laura Schejter (Scientific Head, 2017). This paper is a contribution to the Argentine “Pampa Azul” Marine National Science Project and to CONICET-PIP-114-201101-00238. The authors would also like to thank Marcos Tatián for his collaboration with the logistic of collection and transportation of the samples (SECyT N°30720150100406CB). The authors further acknowledge the editors Lena Menzel and Craig Smith and two anonymous reviewers, who contributed suggestions and comments that improved the final version of the manuscript.
This study was funded by CONICET (grant number PIP-114-201101-00238) and SECyT N°30720150100406CB.
Compliance with ethical standards
Conflict of interest
The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.
All applicable international, national, and/or institutional guidelines for the care and use of animals were followed by the authors.
Sampling and field studies
All necessary permits for sampling and observational field studies have been obtained by the authors from the competent authorities mentioned in the acknowledgements.
The datasets generated during and/or analysed during the current study are available from the corresponding author on reasonable request.
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