Biomass size-spectra of macrobenthic communities in the oxygen minimum zone off Chile

Eduardo Quiroga, Renato Quiñones, Maritza Palma, Javier Sellanes, Víctor A. Gallardo, Dieter Gerdes, Gilbert Rowe

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Estimates of macrofaunal secondary production and normalized biomass size-spectra (NBSS) were constructed for macrobenthic communities associated with the oxygen minimum zone (OMZ) in four areas of the continental margin off Chile. The presence of low oxygen conditions in the Humboldt Current System (HCS) off Chile was shown to have important effects on the size structure and secondary production of the benthic communities living in this ecosystem. The distribution of normalized biomass by size was linear (log 2-log 2 scale) at all stations. The slope of the NBSS ranged from -0.481 to -0.908. There were significant differences between the slopes of the NBS-spectra from the stations located in the OMZ (slope = -0.837) and those located outside the OMZ (slope = -0.463) (p < 0.05). The results of this study suggest that low oxygen conditions (<0.5 ml L -1) appear to influence biomass size-spectra, because small organisms are better able to satisfy their metabolic demands. The annual secondary production was higher off central Chile (6.8 g C m -2 y -1) than off northern Chile (2.02 g C m -2 y -1) and off southern Chile (0.83 g C m -2 y -1). A comparison with other studies suggests that secondary production in terms of carbon equivalents was higher than in other upwelling regions.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)217-231
Number of pages15
JournalEstuarine, Coastal and Shelf Science
Issue number1-2
StatePublished - Jan 2005
Externally publishedYes


  • biomass size-spectra
  • macrobenthos
  • off Chile
  • oxygen minimum zone


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