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Benthic communities at the marine protected area Namuncurá/Burdwood bank, SW Atlantic Ocean: detection of vulnerable marine ecosystems and contributions to the assessment of the rezoning process

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The objectives of the present study were to characterize the benthic invertebrate communities at the Marine Protected Area (MPA) Namuncurá/Burdwood bank (created by the National Law 26875, year 2013) and their different sub-areas, to compare these benthic communities with nearby sub-areas, and to detect sites that meet the criteria of Vulnerable Marine Ecosystems (VMEs) to highlight the importance of this particular and rich sub-Antarctic region. We used quali- and quantitative data obtained from research cruises developed by Argentina in 2016 and 2017. The results showed that Porifera was the most important component (in terms of wet biomass) of these benthic communities, followed by Cnidaria and Echinodermata. The evidences regarding general composition of the main taxonomical groups of the benthic invertebrate community did not support the maintenance of the original zoning of the MPA (core, buffer, and transition), considering that only a weak differentiation was found among the sub-areas designed in the creation Law. Additionally, the analyzed evidences also demonstrated that this MPA was different from other neighboring areas. Vulnerable and fragile organisms recorded in many locations led to the detection of fourteen sites located inside the MPA Namuncurá that meet the characteristics of VMEs (wet biomass of ≥ 10 kg 1200 m−2 of vulnerable and fragile species). These evidences reinforce the conservation value of these particular and susceptible sub-Antarctic benthic communities, composed of both Antarctic and Magellanic species.

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We would like to thank in particular to Agustín Garese, Marina Güller, Esteban Gaitán, Alejandro Puente Tapia, and Ricardo Gonzalez for help on board the RV “Puerto Deseado” during sampling procedures. We are also deeply grateful to scientific and navy crews of both cruise sand to the staff of "Artes de Pesca" from INIDEP. Claudia Bremec provided useful suggestions for the MS. Gustavo Lovrich, as a scientific and academic coordinator, supported and encouraged all the research projects dealing with MPA Namuncurá, Burdwood bank, and the surrounding areas. We are also very grateful to the anonymous reviewers and the Editor of PB, Dieter Piepenburg, whose constructive criticism and suggestions contributed very much to the improvement of our MS. This study was supported by the Argentine Government, AMP Namuncurá/Banco Burdwood (Law 26875), and by PICT-2019-4233 to LS. This is INIDEP Contribution No. 2251 and AMP Namuncurá Contribution No. 52.


The material studied was collected from research cruises that were financed by the National Government of Argentina, under the Law 26875 of the MPA Namuncurá, Burdwood Bank.

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LS conceived, designed and wrote this paper, participated in both cruises, and recorded the data used in this study. MA participated in one of the cruises, helped onboard, performed the statistical analysis, and contributed with the theoretical framework of the Introduction. Both authors read and approved the manuscript.

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Correspondence to Schejter Laura.

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All applicable international, national, and/or institutional guidelines for the care and use of animals were followed. The fieldwork was carried out under permits from MPA Namuncurá, Burdwood bank, Law 26875.

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Supplementary file1 a Photograph of the total catch and the fish box used during sampling procedures onboard; b example of Cnidaria collected in one site; c, d example of the Miscellanea fraction showing the predominance of broken bryozoans while other small and broken organisms are also present (u: sea urchin spine, s: sponge; p, primnoid octocorals, o: ophiuroids; m: dead mollusk shells); e example of Echinodermata collected in one site; f Example of Porifera collected in one site; g example of Crustacea collected in one site; h example of Mollusca (Zygochlamys patagonica shells) collected in one site. (TIF 26745 kb)

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Laura, S., Mariano, A. Benthic communities at the marine protected area Namuncurá/Burdwood bank, SW Atlantic Ocean: detection of vulnerable marine ecosystems and contributions to the assessment of the rezoning process. Polar Biol 44, 2023–2037 (2021).

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