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Suprabenthic amphipods from the littoral zone of Barlovento, Venezuela: spatial distribution and seasonal variation

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Peracarid crustaceans are a very diverse benthic group and one of the dominant taxa within the suprabenthic community. The Barlovento beaches in Venezuela are characterised by large inputs of organic matter and an important assemblage of amphipods has been observed to thrive in this area. In this paper we describe the species composition of this amphipod assemblage along with their spatial and temporal variation and relationship with some environmental variables on four beaches (Agua Sal, Los Timones, Las Cabañas, Valle Seco). Results showed no significant differences in the amphipod community structure and total density of organisms regardless of the season (rainy and dry). From the 7569 amphipods collected, a total of 20 species were identified within 14 families and 17 genera. The species Apohyale media (Dana, 1953), Metatiron tropakis (J. L. Barnard, 1972) and Nototropis minikoi (A. O. Walker, 1905) were the most abundant species in terms of density, and the last two also in terms of frequency of occurrence. Differences in biomass were not significant at any level (season, beach and their interactions); however, the highest amphipod biomass throughout the year was observed at Valle Seco Beach with peaks in January, August and December coinciding with large accumulations of bryozoans and wood debris. Amphipod density and biomass had low correlation values with the environmental variables; the material caught in the suprabenthos net being the most common variable influencing the community.

Affiliations: 1: Laboratorio de Crustaceos Peracaridos, Centro de Biodiversidad Marina – INTECMAR and Departamento de Estudios Ambientales, Universidad Simon Bolivar, Apdo. 89000, Caracas 1086-A, Venezuela


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