Importance of geochemical factors in determining distribution patterns of aquatic invertebrates in mountain streams south of the Atacama Desert, Chile.
Alvial, I., Orth, K., Durán, B., Álvarez, E., & Squeo, F.
The ecology of macroinvertebrate communities in arid regions is still poorly understood. Here we examined how the community structure varied at spatial and temporal scales in streams and tributaries of the Huasco River in semi-arid region of Northern Chile. We expected that macroinvertebrate distribution may be responding to natural processes of mineralization described for Chilean semiarid basins. The relationships among biotic and abiotic variables were assessed through multivariate techniques (principal component analysis, non-metric multidimensional scaling, canonical correspondence analysis), and a two-way analysis of similarity was used to evaluate differences between basins and years (2007, 2008, and 2009). Significant differences in community structure and physical–chemical variables between basins (Del Carmen and Del Tránsito) were found, but not between years. Altitude, Mn, Al, Ca, Na, HCO3, and dissolved oxygen were the variables that best accounted for the communities distribution. In particular, high metals concentration in El Transito basin should determine low density and diversity of macroinvertebrates. Chironomidae, Ephydridae, and Glossiphoniidae were associated to waters with high metals content and acidic pH, whereas Baetidae, Hydroptilidae, and Blephariceridae were associated to sites with more favorable physical–chemical conditions. These results contribute to understand the ecological patterns of macroinvertebrates in arid regions and should lead to conservation and monitoring plans for this remote place.
Palabras claves: Huasco basin, Desert climate, Macroinvertebrates, Biomonitoring, Habitat variables, Handling editor: Koen Martens
Analysis of benthic macroinvertebrates and biotic indices to evaluate water quality in rivers impacted by mining activities in northern Chile.
Alvial, I., Tapia, D., Castro, M., Duran, B., & Verdugo, C.
Catchments in the semiarid regions are especially susceptible to environmental perturbation associated with water scarcity, hydrological variations and overuse by anthropogenic activities. Using multivariate analysis to relate environmental and biological data, and diversity and biotic indices (ChBMWP, ChIBF), we analyzed the macroinvertebrate composition of 12 rivers of the semiarid region of northern Chile. A non-metric multidimensional scaling for macroinvertebrate taxa and a principal component analysis for environmental variables strongly separated upstream sites (e.g. Vacas Heladas and Malo Rivers), which presented low pH and high dissolved metal concentrations, from other sites. Effectively, CCA showed that metals and low pH, associated with the altitudinal gradient, determined the distributional patterns of macroinvertebrates in the Elqui catchment. The causes of these particular conditions could be related to geological processes and human impact. The biotic indices applied to the sampling sites corroborated and reflected these characteristics, with La Laguna and Turbio Rivers showing a diverse macroinvertebrate community and moderate to good water quality, and the Claro River showing favorable conditions for the development of aquatic biota, indicating its better quality relative to other stations. To the middle and low part of the basin, a change in the composition of the community was observed, with species that suggest an impact by an increase in organic matter, due to agricultural activities and urban settlements concentrated in this area. Our results suggest that macroinvertebrate taxa in northern Chile may be exceptional species, adapted to unfavorable geochemical conditions, and emphasize the need for protection of the semiarid basins of the region.
Palabras claves: macro-invertebrates / biotic indices / multivariate analysis / semiarid region
Parameterisation of incoming longwave radiation over glacier surfaces in the semiarid Andes of Chile.
MacDonell, S., Nicholson, L., & Kinnard, C.
A good understanding of radiation fluxes is important for calculating energy, and hence, mass exchange at glacier surfaces. This study evaluates incoming longwave radiation measured at two nearby glacier stations in the high Andes of the Norte Chico region of Chile. These data are the first published records of atmospheric longwave radiation measurements in this region. Nine previously published optimised parameterisations for clear sky emissivity all produced results with a root mean square error (RMSE) ~20 W m−2 and bias within ±5 W m−2, which is inline with findings from other regions. Six optimised parameterisations for incoming longwave in all sky conditions were trialled for application to this site, five of which performed comparably well with RMSE on daytime data <18 W m−2 and bias within ±6 W m−2 when applied to the optimisation site and RMSE <20 W m−2 and bias within ±10 W m−2 when applied to the validation site. The parameterisation proposed by Mölg et al. (J Glaciol 55:292-302, 2009) was selected for use in this region. Incorporating the proposed elevation modification into the equation reduced the bias in the modelled incoming longwave radiation for the validation site. It was found that applying the parameterisation optimised in the original work at Kilimanjaro produced good results at both the primary and validation site in this study, suggesting that this formulation may be robust for different high mountain regions.
Hydrochemical and isotopic patterns in a calc-alkaline Cu- and Au-rich arid Andean basin: The Elqui River watershed, North Central Chile.
Oyarzún, J., Carvajal, M., Maturana, H., Núñez, J., Kretschmer, N., & Amezaga, Röttingd, T.S., Strauche, G., Thynef, G., Oyarzún,R.
The geochemistry of surface water and groundwater from the Elqui River basin, North-Central Chile, was studied in spring 2007 and fall 2008 to obtain a general understanding of the factors and mechanisms controlling the water chemistry of steep rivers located in mineral-rich, arid to semi arid zones. Besides its uniform intermediate igneous lithology, this basin is known for acid drainage and high As contents in the El Indio Au–Cu–As district, in its Andean head. Abundant tailings deposits are present in the middle part of the basin, where agricultural activities are important. According to the results, the chemical and isotopic composition of the Elqui basin surface water and groundwater is related to uniform calc-alkaline lithology and the major polluting system of the chemically reactive, but closed El Indio mining district. The resulting compositional imprints in surface and ground-water are, (a) high SO4 levels, reaching about 1000 mg/L in the Toro River water, directly draining the mining area; (b) a major depletion of Fe and pollutant metals in surface water after the confluence of the Toro and La Laguna rivers; (c) similar chemical composition of surface and ground-waters that differ in H and O isotopic composition, reflecting the effect of differential evaporation processes downstream of the Puclaro dam; and (d) seasonal variations of Fe, Mn, Cu and Zn in surface water. In contrast, the groundwater chemistry exhibits moderate seasonal changes, mainly in View the MathML source content. In spite of the acid drainage pollution, water quality is adequate for human consumption and irrigation. This is a consequence of both the dominant calc-alkaline lithology and the existing arid climate, resulting in neutral to moderately alkaline pH values that are responsible for the precipitation of metal hydroxides and As sorption by Fe(OH)3.
Sea urchin Tetrapygus niger distribution on elevated surfaces represents a strategy for avoiding predatory sea stars
Urriago, J., Himmelman, J., & Gaymer, C.
We ran field experiments to examine whether the micro-distribution of the sea urchin Tetrapygus niger on elevated surfaces represents a strategy for limiting predation by the sea stars Heliaster helianthus and Meyenaster gelatinosus. Several lines of evidence supported this hypothesis. (1) A survey of the distribution of the urchin and the 2 sea stars showed that urchins occur mainly on elevated surfaces, and sea stars on low surfaces. (2) In trials involving simulated attacks, the time needed by the urchin to sever contact with the sea stars was 48% less on elevated surfaces than on the bottom. (3) In trials involving sustained simulated attacks (high predatory risk) the urchins could detach themselves from the elevated surfaces to avoid being eaten. Finally, tethering experiments indicated that the urchin had a higher survival rate on elevated than low surfaces. Our observations indicate that M. gelatinosus represents a stronger predatory threat to T. niger than H. helianthus.
Palabras claves: Tetrapygus niger · Heliaster helianthus · Meyenaster gelatinosus · Predator−prey interactions · Aggregation · Distribution · Tethering
Effects of patch size and position above the substratum during early succession of subtidal soft-bottom communities.
Pacheco, A., Thiel, M., Oliva, M., & Riascos, J.
Early macrobenthos succession in small, disturbed patches on subtidal soft bottoms is facilitated by the arrival of post-larval colonizers, in particular by active and passive dispersers along the seafloor or through the water column. Using a field experiment at two contrasting sites (protected vs. exposed to wave action), we evaluated the role of (a) active and passive dispersal through the water column and (b) the influence of small-scale spatial variability during succession of subtidal macrobenthic communities in northern Chile. Containers of two sizes (surface area: small—0.12 m2 and large—0.28 m2) at two positions above the natural substratum (height: low—3 cm and high—26 cm) were filled with defaunated sediment, installed at two sandy sublittoral sites (7–9 m water depth) and sampled after 7, 15, 30, 60 and 90 days, together with the natural bottom sediment. The experiment took place during austral fall (from late March to early July 2010), when both larval and post-larval stages are abundant. At the exposed site, early succession was driven by similar proportions of active and passive dispersers. A sequence from early, late and reference communities was also evident, but container position and size affected the proportional abundance of dispersal types. At the protected site, the successional process started with abundant colonization of active dispersers, but toward the end of the experiment, the proportion of swimmer/crawlers increased, thus resembling the dispersal types found in the natural community. At this site, the position above the sediment affected the proportional abundance of dispersal types, but patch size had no effect. This study highlights that macrobenthic post-larvae can reach at least 26 cm high above the bottom (actively or passively, depending on site exposure), thus playing an important role during early succession of sublittoral soft bottoms. The active or passive use of the sediment–water interphase may also play an important role in the connectivity of benthic populations and in the recovery after large-scale disturbances of sublittoral habitats.
Palabras claves: Colonization, Disturbance, Macrobenthos, Size effects, Recruitment, Active and passive dispersal, Humboldt, Current, System.
Effects of predation and habitat structure on the abundance and population structure of the rock shrimp Rhynchocinetes typus (Caridea) on temperate rocky reefs.
Ory, N., Dudgeon, D., Dumont, C., Miranda, L., & Thiel, M.
Human disturbances, such as overfishing, may disrupt predator–prey interactions and modify food webs. Underwater surveys were carried out at six shallow-water reef barrens in temperate waters of northern-central Chile from October to December 2010 to describe the effects of predation, habitat complexity (low, medium and high) and refuge availability on the abundance and population structure of the rock shrimp Rhynchocinetes typus (Rhynchocinetidae), an important mesoconsumer on subtidal hard substrata. Three sites were within managed (restricted access) areas for fishermen, and three were unmanaged (open-access). Field observations and tethering experiments were conducted to examine the relationship between fish and shrimp abundances, and the relative predation rates on shrimps. Direct effects of predation on R. typus body-size distribution were examined from shrimps collected in the field and fish stomachs. The presence and the abundance of R. typus increased with habitat reef complexity and refuge availability. Shrimp abundance was negatively related to fish abundance in managed areas, but not in open-access areas, where shrimp densities were the highest. Also, predation rates and body-size distribution of shrimps were unrelated, although fish consumed more large shrimps than should be expected from their distribution in the field. R. typus occurred most often in shelters with wide openings, offering limited protection against predators, but providing potential aggregation sites for shrimps. Overall, direct effects of predation on shrimp densities and population structure were weak, but indirect effects on shrimp distribution within reefs appear to have been mediated through behavioural responses. Our study highlights the need to assess both numerical and behavioural responses of prey to determine the effects of predator loss on mesoconsumer populations.
Floating kelps in Patagonian Fjords: an important vehicle for rafting invertebrates and its relevance for biogeography.
Wichmann, C., Hinojosa, I., & Thiel, M.
Floating macroalgae are common dispersal vehicles for associated benthic invertebrates. In order to investigate the importance of kelp rafts for species dispersal in the Patagonian Fjord Region (PFR), the abundance and distribution pattern of floating kelps (Macrocystis pyrifera, Durvillaea antarctica) and of the invertebrate fauna associated with M. pyrifera were evaluated during austral spring of 2002–2005, 2008 and 2010. In the southernmost Magellan Region (MR), benthic M. pyrifera were additionally sampled to compare the community structures in both conditions. Floating kelps were abundant throughout the entire PFR, harbouring a diverse and abundant invertebrate fauna. The density of floating kelps increased towards the south. In the MR, a loss of species was observed between benthic and floating condition (e.g. decapods, echinoderms, several peracarid species), but a high diversity of organisms from all major phyla were observed on rafts. Throughout the PFR, the predominant rafting species belonged to the peracarids, molluscs and annelids, but the community composition differed between floating samples from the northern and southern zones of the PFR. Relative abundances of peracarids were higher in northern zones, whereas molluscs and annelids dominated in the southern areas. Species of the peracarid genera Peramphithoe, Gondogeneia, Bircenna and Limnoria were shared between all areas. The results suggest that kelp rafts not only contribute to local population connectivity in the PFR, but could also be an important dispersal vehicle for rafting species along the PFR in north–south direction, crossing the biogeographic boundary around Taitao Peninsula. Furthermore, the MR appears to be an important stepping stone for species dispersal via kelp rafting in the subantarctic region.
Reproductive biology of two species of squat lobsters – female receptivity and interbrood intervals.
Espinoza-Fuenzalida, N., Acuña, E., Hinojosa, I., & Thiel, M.
The reproductive biology of many species of anomuran crabs is only poorly known. Herein we studied the reproductive biology of two species of squat lobsters, Cervimunida johni Porter, 1903 and Pleuroncodes monodon (H. Milne Edwards, 1837), which are target of a trawl fishery operating on the continental margin along the Chilean coast. During the reproductive period (May-November) we maintained squat lobsters in the laboratory to examine whether mating is related to the reproductive molt of the female and to determine the interbrood interval between successive broods. In both species females mated during the intermolt period. Females became receptive shortly after having released larvae from a previous brood, when they formed pairs with males. The interbrood interval (from larval release until having a subsequent brood) lasted <72<72 hour in the majority of female C. johni, but was longer in P. monodon, where most females took 72-144 hours before producing a new brood. Despite longer interbrood intervals, copulatory mate-guarding was substantially shorter in P. monodon than in C. johni. These differences in reproductive behavior might be due to differences in the general biology of the two species, including mobility and intraspecific aggression. Mating during the intermolt period may have several advantages, namely reducing the risk of cannibalism and energy costs of molting during the reproductive season.
Palabras claves: female receptivity, mating, reproduction, squat lobsters, trawl fishery.
Can a breakdown in competition-colonization tradeoffs help explain the success of exotic species in the California flora?
Molina-Montenegro, M., Cleland, E., Watts, S., & Broitman, B.
Determining combinations of functional traits that allow a species to colonize new habitats has been central in the development of invasion ecology. Species able to establish in new communities harbor abilities or traits that allow them to use resources or tolerate stress in ways that native species cannot. Tradeoffs among species functional traits along the competition–colonization (CC) continuum, where competitive ability is a decreasing function of dispersal capacity, may allow invasive species to establish themselves in new habitats. The California flora offers a well-characterized model system to examine whether native and exotic species differ in the distribution of functional traits and to examine whether a breakdown of the CC tradeoff is present. We used a random subset of 1000 plants and examined seed traits and life form characteristics along with their seed size and adult height using the Jepson Manual of the plants of California. To test the hypothesis that active dispersal strategies aid in the success of exotic species, we classified species into four seed types according to the presence/absence of mechanisms associated with efficient dispersal. In addition, for each species we compiled data on seed size and adult plant height. We conducted all comparisons between native and exotic species within the four most speciose families to control for potential taxonomic non-independence. Exotic species had smaller seed size but greater plant height than natives of the same families. On the other hand, exotic species also displayed significantly greater proportions of functional traits that enhanced dispersal ability. Additionally, certain sets of functional traits were significantly associated with exotic species, such as annual life histories with small seeds and high dispersal capacity. In the random subset of the California flora examined, exotics of the most speciose plant families show functional trait combinations that appear to violate the tradeoff structures observed in their California counterparts. Our results suggest that taxonomically controlled comparisons of the CC tradeoff structure between natives and exotic species may shed light of the capacity of those exotic species invasive ability to colonize new habitats.