, Volume 20, Issue 4, pp 229-247

Structure and biodiversity of megabenthos in the Weddell and Lazarev Seas (Antarctica): ecological role of physical parameters and biological interactions

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A community analysis of the mega-zooepibenthos at water depths between 99 and 1243 m was carried out for the Weddell and Lazarev Seas (47°W 77°S–12°E 70°S). A total of 144,531 specimens were counted and 313 taxa were identified from 3,768 photographs at 55 stations, which represented approximately 3,304 m2 of seafloor. The stations were classified into six groups according to their inventory of taxa although they represented rather a gradient from a rich and diverse suspension feeder assemblage to a poorer assemblage. In the latter, the proportion of deposit feeders was higher than in the former. A statistical comparison between biological and physical data showed that the faunistic pattern could best be explained by a combination of water depth and a geographical gradient. A positive correlation between the abundance of large sponges and the number of all other taxa was found.