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Biodiversity and Conservation

, Volume 19, Issue 3, pp 775–796 | Cite as

Marine biodiversity at the community level: zoogeography of sharks, skates, rays and chimaeras in the southwestern Atlantic

  • Roberto C. Menni
  • Andrés J. Jaureguizar
  • Matthias F. W. Stehmann
  • Luis O. LuciforaEmail author
Original Paper

Abstract

For more than a century, two major zoogeographic provinces have been proposed for the southwestern Atlantic: a warm water Argentinean Province from Rio de Janeiro (23°S, Brazil) to Valdés Peninsula (42°S, Argentina), and a cold water Magellanic Province from Valdés Peninsula to Cape Horn. This zoogeographic scheme has been recognized so far using data covering only parts of the whole geographic area. Here, we test the validity of this scheme by analyzing the distribution of sharks, skates, rays and chimaeras, using data from research cruises covering the entire area. We used cluster, similarity and dissimilarity analyses to identify species assemblages, and canonical correspondence analysis to identify the main environmental variables affecting the composition of the assemblages. The distribution of chondrichthyan assemblages strongly supports the current zoogeographic scheme and identifies a previously unknown and distinctive deep water zoogeographic unit off southern Brazil. Both, the Argentinean and Magellanic Provinces had extensive internal structure, with four and three subareas identified in each of them, respectively. These subareas correspond, with slight differences, to previously proposed zoogeographical districts within the Argentinean Province and confirm ecological differences within the Magellanic Province. Species composition had the highest correlation with depth and bottom water temperature. Since the distribution of anthropogenic disturbances in the region is uneven, different assemblages can be subjected to different impacts. Our results provide an objective basis to establish priority areas for the conservation of chondrichthyans in the southwestern Atlantic.

Keywords

Chondrichthyes Elasmobranch communities Biodiversity Southwestern Atlantic Chondrichthyan conservation 

Notes

Acknowledgements

This paper was supported by Consejo Nacional de Investigaciones Científicas y Técnicas (CONICET), Argentina (Grant 2086 to RCM). The authors thank José Bava (satellite photographs), the Institut für Seefischerei (Hamburg, Germany) for providing data, and G. Schulze (Zoologisches Museum Hamburg) for technical help. RCM greatly acknowledges the Deutscher Akademischer Austauschdienst (Germany) for making possible his visit to the Institut für Seefischerei Hamburg (1995), and to the Conselho Nacional de Desenvolvimento Científico e Tecnológico and the Sociedade Brasileira para o Estudo dos Elasmobrânquios, both from Brazil, for supporting his research in their country for many years. LOL was supported by a grant from the Lenfest Ocean Program.

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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2009

Authors and Affiliations

  • Roberto C. Menni
    • 1
  • Andrés J. Jaureguizar
    • 2
  • Matthias F. W. Stehmann
    • 3
  • Luis O. Lucifora
    • 4
    • 5
    Email author
  1. 1.Consejo Nacional de Investigaciones Científicas y Técnicas (CONICET), Museo de La PlataLa Plata, Buenos AiresArgentina
  2. 2.Comisión de Investigaciones Científicas, Instituto Nacional de Investigación y Desarrollo PesqueroMar del Plata, Buenos AiresArgentina
  3. 3.Ichthys ConsultantHamburgGermany
  4. 4.Department of BiologyDalhousie UniversityHalifaxCanada
  5. 5.CONICET, Centro de Investigaciones Ecológicas Subtropicales, Centro de Investigaciones del Bosque AtlánticoPuerto IguazúArgentina

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