, Volume 11, Issue 8, pp 553-563

A quantitative scuba-diving survey of the sublittoral macrobenthos at subantarctic Marion Island

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A SCUBA-diving survey of the macrobenthos of hard substrata in the sublittoral zone at subantarctic Marion Island was conducted during March and April 1988. Dense beds (12 kg m−2) of the kelp Macrocystis laevis occur in depths > 5 m. Durvillaea antarctica is found along the infralittoral fringe and Desmarestia rossi and Durvillaea sp. occur in a narrow zone from 3 m–6 m. Under-storey algae (chiefly rhodophytes) tend to decrease in biomass with depth, with mean values of 1.57 kg m−2 at 5m, 0.75 kg m−2 at 10m and 0.49 kg m−2 at 15 m. Encrusting coralline algae are particularly abundant in shallow areas (¯x = 0.92 kg m−2) but are insignificant in deeper areas. Total biomass of macrozoobenthos increased with depth with mean values of 0.12 kg m−2 at 5 m, 0.34 kg m−2 at 10 m and 0.46 kg m−2 at 15 m. Polychaetes, crustaceans, echinoderms, molluscs, sponges and bryozoans dominated the macrozoobenthos in terms of biomass. Approximately 200 species of macrobenthic animals were recorded and numerically, polychaetes, crustaceans, molluscs, nematodes and echinoderms dominated. The sublittoral benthos at Marion Island is compared with that occurring at other subantarctic and Antarctic islands, in particular, the Kerguelen Island group. Zoogeographic trends and the possible effects of nutrient input from seabird guano are briefly discussed.