Seasonal benthic patterns in a glacial Patagonian fford: The role of suspended sediment and terrestrial organic matter

Eduardo Quiroga, Paula Ortiz, Rodrigo González-Saldías, Brian Reid, Fabián J. Tapia, Iván Pérez-Santos, Lorena Rebolledo, Rodrigo Mansilla, Carlos Pineda, Ilia Cari, Nicole Salinas, Américo Montiel, Dieter Gerdes

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

27 Scopus citations


Complex marine-terrestrial interactions characterize Chilean ffords, where benthic communities influence the distribution of organic matter (OM). We examined spatial and seasonal changes in the hydrography, sediment conditions and soft-bottom macrobenthic, meiobenthic, and total microbial biomass in a glacial Patagonian fford (Martinez Channel, Chile). The transport of a high load of glacial mineral and particulate OM to the fford in the austral summer coincided with low total live benthic biomass. Multivariate analysis evidenced temporal-related macrofaunal groups influenced by the different environments produced by the advection of sediment transport and terrestrial OM from the Baker River, Chile. The relationships between density/biomass and respiration versus body size varied considerably with distance from major riverine inputs, but the slopes of density size spectra and normalized biomass size spectra were less negative in summer than in winter. Occasional large-scale advective processes in the water column affected sediment conditions and removed surface macrofauna, influencing the slope and intercept of the regression models. In the outer fford, lateral advection and subsequent sedimentation of terrestrial OM contributed a significant fraction to total OM sediments (<14.76%). Stable carbon isotopes measured in benthic organisms suggest that benthic communities in the inner fford may assimilate a significant fraction of terrestrial OM via heterotrophic bacteria in contrast to the minor input of terrestrial OM in the outer fford.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)31-50
Number of pages20
JournalMarine Ecology Progress Series
StatePublished - 15 Dec 2016


  • Macrofauna
  • Meiofauna
  • Stable isotopes
  • Total microbial biomass
  • Trophic structure


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