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Surf zone fauna of Ecuadorian sandy beaches: Spatial and temporal patterns

Journal Contribution - Journal Article

Sandy beaches and their surf zones are the most common open shoreline habitat; however, surf zone fauna in the tropics is one of the least studied communities in the world. In the current study, we tested the hypothesis that Ecuadorian surf zone hyperbenthos (invertebrates and vertebrates 1-5 mm in length) and epibenthos (fish and macrocrustaceans > 5 mm in length) vary among beaches and seasons. Therefore, the fauna was described and related to environmental variables. In addition, indicator taxa were identified. The hyperbenthos was divided into holo- and mero-hyperbenthos depending on whether taxa were present during their entire life or only early life stages, respectively. Samples were collected at eight different beaches during the wet, dry and intermediate or transitional season during the low spring tide, from 1999 to 2000, using a hyperbenthic sledge and epibenthic trawl. A total of 447 hyperbenthic and 30 epibenthic taxa were collected, most of which were crustaceans and fish, respectively (52 and 60% of taxa). The mysid, Metamysidopsis sp., was the most abundant member of the hyperbenthos (average SD: 14,425 40,039 ind. 100 m-2, present in 92% of samples collected), and the swimming blue crab, Areneus mexicanus, was the most encountered species among the epibenthos (1 1 ind. 100 m-2, 97% of samples collected). All faunal groups varied among beaches, while the holo-hyperbenthos and less strongly the epibenthos varied among seasons. Variability in the three faunas among beaches, distance from the continental slope and the Guayas estuarine system, and beach water physical characteristics were all strongly correlated suggesting adjacent habitats can influence surf zone biological communities and water physical characteristics. Seasonal effects were related to changes in water physical characteristics among seasons potentially reflecting changes in oceanic currents. These results suggest that, similarly to other beaches around the world, Ecuadorian surf zone fauna is abundant, diverse, and vary among beaches and, for some faunal groups, among seasons, potentially due to the influence of adjacent habitats and seasonal changes in oceanic currents.
Journal: Journal of Sea Research
ISSN: 1385-1101
Volume: 120
Pages: 41-49
Number of pages: 9
Publication year:2017
Keywords:Marine/Coastal, Hydrology/oceanography, Aquatic sciences