Structuring Factors Of The Cumacean Communities Of The Continental Shelf Of Southeastern Brazil
Brazilian Journal of Oceanography
Cumaceans are benthic crustaceans distributed worldwide, from intertidal to abyssal plains. They live in sandy and muddy bottoms and can sometimes be found in the water column. Despite their ecological importance as food items for fishes and other organisms and their usefulness as environmental indicators, very few studies have investigated their biodiversity and distribution in Brazil. The present paper reports an ecological study of the cumacean species found on the continental shelf off
... ntal shelf off Santos, southeastern Brazil. It investigates the composition and spatio-temporal structure of the communities, the main environmental factors responsible for the maintenance of that structure and analyzes the effects of the seasonal oceanographic changes on the community descriptors. A grid of 21 stations located between 10 and 100 m depth was created in winter 2005 and summer 2006 and the sediment samples collected with a 0.1 m2 box corer. Twenty four species were obtained, five of them being the most numerous: Diastylis sexpectinata, D. sympterygiae, Eudorella sp., Oxyurostylis salinoi and Anchistylis notus, the latter highly dominant in summer. Diastylis sympterygiae was characteristic of the shallowest and least saline stations (< 16 m depth; S = 33.07 - 34.2) in both seasons. Of the total of 919 individuals, nearly 70% occurred in summer. The area was divided into four depth bands and no significant temporal difference was found as regards the density distribution of cumaceans in those bands as between the samples of the two campaigns. There were, however, spatial differences within bands in the summer campaign: the higher values of density, diversity and richness were close to the 50 m isobath in both campaigns, a fact that could well be attributed to the ongoing effect of the South Atlantic Central Water in this area. The results showed also that depth and the sediment particle size were the main structural factors determining the composition and distribution of the cumacean species.