Floating kelps in Patagonian Fjords: an important vehicle for rafting invertebrates and its relevance for biogeography
Wichmann, C-S and Hinojosa Toledo, IA and Thiel, M, Floating kelps in Patagonian Fjords: an important vehicle for rafting invertebrates and its relevance for biogeography, Marine Biology: International Journal on Life in Oceans and Coastal Waters, 159, (9) pp. 2035-2049. ISSN 0025-3162 (2012) [Refereed Article]
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.