Floating kelps in Patagonian Fjords: an important vehicle for rafting invertebrates and its relevance for biogeography.

Autores:

Wichmann, C., Hinojosa, I., & Thiel, M.

Resumen:

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.

Año: 2012

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Reproductive biology of two species of squat lobsters – female receptivity and interbrood intervals.

Autores:

Espinoza-Fuenzalida, N., Acuña, E., Hinojosa, I., & Thiel, M.

Resumen:

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.

Año: 2012

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?

Autores:

Molina-Montenegro, M., Cleland, E., Watts, S., & Broitman, B.

Resumen:

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.

Año: 2012

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Characterization of the interactions between subterranean and superficial fluxes within an Andean catchment as a function of the spatio- temporal variability of climate.

Autores:

Jourde, H., Blanc, M., Rochette, R., Ruelland, D., Hicks, E., & Oyarzun, R

Resumen:

In the semi-arid region of Norte Chico (Chile), climate variability, mainly controlled by ENSO and LNSO events, generates a high variability of both surface water and groundwater fluxes. Taking the upper Elqui catchment as an example, this study found that, during LNSO events, the abnormally high values of the runoff coefficient may be the consequence of a groundwater contribution to surface water flow. During ENSO events, however, the lower values of the runoff coefficient and the dynamics of the water table level highlight the recharge of the subsurface compartment. For the hydrological years characterized by a high pluviometric index during the 1977–2008 period, three dynamics of interaction between groundwater and surface water are identified : (i) the water table increases before the river discharge, and its logarithmic increase highlights a rapid recharge related to the concomitance of snowmelt and rainfall events ; (ii) the water table increases after the river discharge and its exponential increase shows a progressive intensification of the recharge over time ; and (iii) the water table and the river discharge increase are concomitant. Dynamics (i) and (ii) are observed during the ENSO events, when precipitation occurs over a long time period ; dynamic (iii) is observed during the neutral years, when high intensity precipitations occur over short periods. The analysis of these dynamics and runoff coefficients shows that when the mean annual precipitation is less than 70 mm, the relative equilibrium between runoff and recharge processes is broken, which may generate a high hydrological deficit; this threshold could thus be used as a warning for drought. Finally, the spatial variability of runoff coefficients shows a larger contribution of the subsurface compartment in catchment with a larger proportion of granites, suggesting a mountain front recharge from the alterites in the granitic watershed.

Año: 2012

Palabras claves: hydro-climatic variability, water resource, surface, subsurface interactions, snowmelt, Río Elqui, North-Central Chile.

Activity patterns and predatory behavior of an intertidal nemertean from rocky shores: Prosorhochmus nelsoni (Hoplonemertea) from the Southeast Pacific.

Autores:

Caplins, S., Penna-Diaz, M., Godoy, E., Valdivia, N., Turbeville, J., & Thiel, M.

Resumen:

Understanding the impact of environmental stressors on predator activity is a prerequisite to understanding the underlying mechanisms shaping community structure. The nemertean Prosorhochmus nelsoni is a common predator in the mid-intertidal zone on rocky shores along the Chilean coast, where it can reach very high abundances (up to 260 ind m−2) in algal turfs, algal crusts, barnacle crusts, and mixed substrata. Tidal and diurnal scans revealed that the activity of P. nelsoni is primarily restricted to night and early-morning low tides and is relatively low when air temperatures are high. On average, larger worms crawled faster than smaller worms, with their maximum velocity being influenced by substratum type. Their estimated rate of predation is 0.092 prey items nemertean−1 day−1, just below the laboratory rate of ~0.2 amphipods nemertean−1 day−1 previously estimated for this species. P. nelsoni consumes a diverse spectrum of prey items (i.e., amphipods, isopods, decapods, barnacles, and dipterans) and is possibly exerting a significant influence on its prey populations. We suggest that the opportunistic predatory behavior of this intertidal predator is caused by the trade-off between immediate persistence (e.g., avoidance of desiccation) and long-term survival through successful foraging.

Año: 2012

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Microplastics in the Marine Environment: A Review of the Methods Used for Identification and Quantification.

Autores:

Hidalgo-Ruz, V., Gutow, L., Thompson, R., & Thiel, M.

Resumen:

This review of 68 studies compares the methodologies used for the identification and quantification of microplastics from the marine environment. Three main sampling strategies were identified: selective, volume-reduced, and bulk sampling. Most sediment samples came from sandy beaches at the high tide line, and most seawater samples were taken at the sea surface using neuston nets. Four steps were distinguished during sample processing: density separation, filtration, sieving, and visual sorting of microplastics. Visual sorting was one of the most commonly used methods for the identification of microplastics (using type, shape, degradation stage, and color as criteria). Chemical and physical characteristics (e.g., specific density) were also used. The most reliable method to identify the chemical composition of microplastics is by infrared spectroscopy. Most studies reported that plastic fragments were polyethylene and polypropylene polymers. Units commonly used for abundance estimates are “items per m2” for sediment and sea surface studies and “items per m3” for water column studies. Mesh size of sieves and filters used during sampling or sample processing influence abundance estimates. Most studies reported two main size ranges of microplastics: (i) 500 μm–5 mm, which are retained by a 500 μm sieve/net, and (ii) 1–500 μm, or fractions thereof that are retained on filters. We recommend that future programs of monitoring continue to distinguish these size fractions, but we suggest standardized sampling procedures which allow the spatiotemporal comparison of microplastic abundance across marine environments.

Año: 2012

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Anthropogenic structures as a spatial refuge from predation for the invasive bryozoan Bugula neritina.

Autores:

Dumont, C., Harris, L., & Gaymer, C.

Resumen:

Anthropogenic structures may play an important role in the marine invasion process by providing novel artificial habitats, often out of the reach of common benthic predators. A survey of piers in northern-central Chile revealed a change in the epibenthic assemblage on pilings at different distances from a rocky shore with abundant grazers and predators. Pilings on soft sediment, away from the rocky shore, were heavily colonized by the invasive bryozoan Bugula neritina. We therefore hypothesized that benthic predators may forage on pilings located on rocky bottom whereas pilings on soft sediment benefit from the absence of generalist benthic predators which do not occur on soft sediment. We examined piling communities using cages directly attached to pilings, where we included or excluded the sea urchin Tetrapygus niger and the rock shrimp Rhyncocinetes typus. Resultant communities differed substantially; a high percentage of bare space occurred in the presence of sea urchins, while turf algae dominated in the presence of shrimp. Both sea urchins and shrimp suppressed the colonization of the invasive B. neritina and, when acting together, totally prevented its recruitment. In contrast, invasive bryozoans colonized 95% of the available substratum in cages where predators were excluded. Our results show the important role of benthic generalist predators in limiting the establishment and spread of non-native species on anthropogenic structures. Further, this study highlights the unprecedented role of shrimp grazing in structuring hard-bottom communities.

Año: 2012

Palabras claves: Predation • Rock shrimp • Sea urchin • Invasive species • Fouling • Artificial hábitat.

Geochemistry of trace metals in shelf sediments affected by seasonal and permanent low oxygen conditions off central Chile, SE Pacific (∼36°S).

Autores:

Muñoz, P., Dezileau, L., Cardenas, L., Sellanes, J., Lange, C., & Inostroza, J. et al.

Resumen:

Trace metals (Cd, U, Co, Ni, Cu, Ba, Fe, Mn), total organic carbon (TOC) and C and N stable isotope signatures (δ13C and δ15N) were determined in short sediments cores from the inner and outer shelf off Concepción, Chile (∼36°S). The objectives were to establish the effect of environmental conditions on trace metal distributions at two shelf sites, one affected by seasonal oxygenation and the other by permanent low oxygen conditions due to the presence of the oxygen minimum zone (OMZ). We evaluate trace metals as proxies of past changes in primary productivity and the bottom water oxygen regime. Concentrations of pore water sulfides and NH4+ were also measured as indicators of the main diagenetic pathways at each site. Our results for the inner shelf (seasonal suboxia) suggest that the oxidative state of the sediments responds to seasonal pulses of organic matter and that seasonal oxygenation develops during high and low primary productivity in the water column. Here, positive fluxes (to the water column) estimated from pore water concentrations of several elements were observed (Ba, Co, Ni, Fe and Mn). The less reduced environment at this site produces authigenic enrichment of Cu associated with the formation of oxides in the oxic surface sediment layer, and the reduction of U within deeper sediment sections occur consistently with negative estimated pore water fluxes. In the outer shelf sediments (permanent suboxia, OMZ site), negative fluxes (to the sediment) were estimated for all elements, but these sediments showed authigenic enrichments only for Cd, Cu and U. The short oxygenation period during the winter season did not affect the accumulation of these metals on the shelf. The distribution of Cu, Cd and U have been preserved within the sediments and the authigenic accumulation rates estimated showed a decrease from the deep sections of the core to the surface sediments. This could be explained by a gradual decrease in the strength of the OMZ in the last 100 years, in combination with periods of strong oxygenations during El Niño events.

Año: 2012

Palabras claves: Trace metals; Sediments; Oxygen minimum zone; Organic carbon; SE Pacific; Concepción shelf.

Major hydrological regime change along the semiarid western coast of South America during the early Holocene.

Autores:

Ortega, C., Vargas, G., Rutllant, J., Jackson, D., & Méndez, C.

Resumen:

Water availability in the semiarid western coast of Chile (30–32°S) is conditioned by high interannual precipitation variability, reflecting the transition between arid subtropical and moist mid-latitude climates in the Southeastern Pacific Ocean. A paleoclimate reconstruction based on the latest Pleistocene–Holocene geological record from the Quebrada Santa Julia archeological site in Chile (31°50′S) and on modern meteorological mechanisms producing alluvial episodes in this region indicates a major change in the rainfall regime shortly after 8600 cal yr BP. This, together with other paleoclimate proxies along the west coast of South America (34°–14°S), suggests La Niña-like conditions 13,000–8600 cal yr BP. Based on sedimentological and geomorphologic evidence, we hypothesized that the absence of heavy rainfall events in northern Chile and the new hydrological regime that prevailed ca. 8600–5700 cal yr BP in north-central Chile resulted from an increase in the large-scale westerly flow over central Chile, as expected in near-neutral ENSO conditions. This atmospheric circulation anomaly is compatible with an equatorward shift of the influence of the Southeast Pacific Subtropical Anticyclone relative to the early Holocene, prior to the onset of modern ENSO variability.

Año: 2012

Palabras claves: Paleoclimate; Early Holocene; Alluvial flow; Heavy rainfall; Coastal fog; El Niño Southern Oscillation (ENSO); Western South America; Paleohydrology; Pacific Ocean.

Climatic trends and impact of climate change on agriculture in an arid Andean valley.

Autores:

Fiebig-Wittmaack, M., Astudillo, O., Wheaton, E., Wittrock, V., Perez, C., & Ibacache, A.

Resumen:

Little is known about climate change and its impacts for the arid coastal and mountainous regions in northern Chile. The Elqui river basin, part of the Norte Chico of Chile between 27ºS and 33ºS latitude, is located south of the hyper-arid Atacama desert. Despite water scarcity, agricultural development in this region has been enhanced by agronomic practices and the marketing of valuable products. This paper characterizes the actual climate conditions and presents an overview and analyses of past climate variability, and future possible climate trends, emphasizing those relevant to agriculture. Precipitation shows an important decrease during the first decades of the past century. Runoff shows decreasing trends for the first half of the past century and increases for 1960 to 1985. Drought appears to be increasing. Statistical downscaling was accomplished using the Long Ashton Research Station Weather Generator. Both future periods of 2011 to 2030 and 2046–65 showed trends to higher minimum and maximum temperature. The number of hot days (maximum temperature greater than or equal to 30°C) has a strong increasing trend during October to April. Even though the downscaled results for precipitation do not show trends, the continuation of the present trend of low amounts is a concern. We discuss some implications of climatic changes for agriculture and we emphasize the importance of adaptation, especially to deal with water scarcity.

Año: 2012

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