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Brazilian Journal of Oceanography

Print version ISSN 1679-8759


RODRIGUES, Carina Waiteman  and  PIRES-VANIN, Ana Maria Setubal. Spatio-temporal and functional structure of the amphipod communities off Santos, Southwestern Atlantic. Braz. j. oceanogr. [online]. 2012, vol.60, n.3, pp.421-439. ISSN 1679-8759.

The amphipod fauna was employed to investigate a bottom environmental gradient in the continental shelf adjacent to Santos Bay. The constant flow of less saline water from the estuarine complex of the Santos and São Vicente rivers besides the seasonal intrusion of the cold saline South Atlantic Central Water (SACW) bring a highly dynamic water regime to the area. Density, distribution, diversity and functional structure of the communities were studied on a depth gradient from 10 to 100 m on two cruises in contrasting seasons, winter 2005 and summer 2006. Twenty-one sediment samples were taken with a 0.09m2 box corer. Temperature and salinity were measured at each station and an additional surface sediment sample was obtained with the box corer for granulometric and chemical analyses. Sixty species were collected  on each survey and higher density values were found in summer. A priori one-way Analysis of Similarities (ANOSIM) indicated the existence of three different groups of amphipods related to the depth gradient: the Coastal group, the Mixed Zone group and the Deep Zone group. The Coastal Zone in both cruises was inhabited by a community presenting low diversity and density, besides high dominance of the infaunal tube-dweller Ampelisca paria; the area around 30 m  presented the highest values of all the ecological indicators and the species showed several life styles; the outer area, situated between 50 and 100 m depth in the SACW domain, presented a community characterized by lower diversity and high biomass and density values. A season-depth ANOSIM showed the influence of depth and season for the Coastal and Mixed Zone groups whereas no seasonal difference was obtained for the Deep Zone group. The synergistic effect of the SACW and depth in the first place, followed by physical changes in substrate, seem to be the main factors controlling the fauna's distribution. In addition, the estuarine waters from Santos Bay apparently had no effect on the establishment of the environmental gradient observed on the adjacent shelf. Diversity, distribution, functional groups and trophic conditions of superficial sediments are discussed in the light of the main oceanographic processes present on the southern Brazilian shelf.

Keywords : Amphipod communities; Life style distribution; Southern Brazilian shelf; Baixada Santista.

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