Fouling community dominated by Metridium senile (Cnidaria: Anthozoa: Actiniaria) in Bahía San Julián (southern Patagonia, Argentina)
Juan Pablo Martin, Agustín Garese, Alicia Sar, Fabián H. Acuña

The objective of this study is to provide information about a harbour-fouling community dominated by Metridium senile in southern Patagonia. Several steel tubes from the wharf of Puerto San Julián were extracted to perform repair tasks, allowing the attached benthic community to be studied. Sampling was conducted at three levels: lower intertidal, 3-4 m depth and 6-7 m depth. In the lower intertidal, M. senile had a relative abundance of 43%, the most abundant accompanying species being Perumytilus purpuratus, Mytilus edulis platensis and Aulacomya atra atra. At subtidal level, the anemone showed relative abundances of 64% and 65%, and was accompanied by Monocorophium insidiosum at 3-4 m depth and by polychaetes of families Sabellidae and Syllidae at 6-7 m at depth. In the lower intertidal, epibiosis was more frequent on P. purpuratus, A. atra atra and M. edulis platensis, while in the subtidal, the richness of substrate-organisms increased significantly and the anemone was fixed to A. atra atra, M. edulis platensis, Paramolgula gregaria, Crepipatella dilatata, Austromegabalanus psittacus, Hiatella arctica, Polyzoa opuntia, Pyura sp. and Sabellidae tubes. The ability of M. senile to settle on many different organisms, along with other strategies, makes it a colonizer able to displace other species that could compete with it for substratum. Given the cosmopolitan nature of M. senile, the fact that this species has not been previously reported in the coastal zone of the region, and the results of our study, we discuss the possibility that this sea anemone is an invasive alien species in southern Patagonia, or at least a cryptogenic species.

Keywords: biofouling; benthic communities; Actiniaria; Metridiidae; epibiosis; exotic species; southern Patagonia
Contents of this volume Sci. Mar. 79(2) : 211-221 Back PDF
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