Sewage-induced polychaete reefs in a SW Atlantic shore: rapid response to small-scale disturbance

Authors

  • Griselda V. Garaffo,

    1.  Departamento de Ciencias Marinas, Universidad Nacional de Mar del Plata, Mar del Plata, Argentina
    2.  Consejo Nacional de Investigaciones Científicas y Técnicas (CONICET), Buenos Aires, Argentina
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  • María L. Jaubet,

    1.  Departamento de Ciencias Marinas, Universidad Nacional de Mar del Plata, Mar del Plata, Argentina
    2.  Consejo Nacional de Investigaciones Científicas y Técnicas (CONICET), Buenos Aires, Argentina
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  • María de los Á. Sánchez,

    1.  Departamento de Ciencias Marinas, Universidad Nacional de Mar del Plata, Mar del Plata, Argentina
    2.  Consejo Nacional de Investigaciones Científicas y Técnicas (CONICET), Buenos Aires, Argentina
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  • María S. Rivero,

    1.  Departamento de Ciencias Marinas, Universidad Nacional de Mar del Plata, Mar del Plata, Argentina
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  • Eduardo A. Vallarino,

    1.  Departamento de Ciencias Marinas, Universidad Nacional de Mar del Plata, Mar del Plata, Argentina
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  • Rodolfo Elías

    1.  Departamento de Ciencias Marinas, Universidad Nacional de Mar del Plata, Mar del Plata, Argentina
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Griselda V. Garaffo, Departamento de Ciencias Marinas, Universidad Nacional de Mar del Plata, Deán Funes 3350, B 7602 AYL Mar del Plata, Argentina.
E-mail: garaffo@mdp.edu.ar

Abstract

The intertidal zone around Mar del Plata’s sewage discharge (38° S, 57° W) is characterized by the presence of the non-indigenous spionid polychaete Boccardia proboscidea. This species has been classified as tolerant to moderate and high levels of organic contamination. During early stages of colonization this species can reach very high densities without suffering from interspecific competition, building biogenic structures such as reef. The aim of this work was evaluate the recovery time of the reef to a small-scale experimental physical disturbance. Five independent rocks with B. proboscidea reefs on them were selected randomly and a small-scale disturbance was generated by corers (16 cm2). At the beginning of the experiment, six corers were collected in each reef to produce the disturbance. The original density of B. proboscidea in each reef was determined in these corers. The reefs with disturbed corer were sampled on successive days to assess the reef recovery time. The number of larvae, juveniles and adults was quantified. Polychaete reefs had very high densities before the disturbance (mean density: 1,021,250 ind m−2). Boccardia proboscidea reefs had a fast recovery rate after small-scale disturbance. Four days after disturbance the density reached about 50% of the original density and after 5 days the disturbed reefs could not be differentiated from the undisturbed reef. The initial recolonization of disturbed patches occurs as a result of migration which appears to be driven by larvae and juveniles. These reefs can not be seen as biodiversity hotspots and the presence of the species demonstrates great environmental deterioration.

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