Soft bottoms are important in marine ecosystems but their ecology have been less studied in the tropics than in temperate areas. This article describes the temporal, spatial, and vertical distribution of the community structure of subtidal soft bottom macrofauna on Isla Gorgona, Colombian Pacific. Samples were collected in March and June 2011 by corers at 10m depth at five points around the island. Seventy-three species were recorded; polychaetes (55%) and crustaceans (30%) were the dominant groups in number of individuals. The community structure assessed by classification and ordination analysis did not change temporarily, but it shows differences between sampling points, due to the structure of the substrate. The highest abundances of macrofauna were recorded at points with dominance of fine particles (Farallones). However, another point with a similar substrate (Planchón) showed low abundance, apparently due to bioturbation exerted by the fishHeteroconger sp. The presence of Heteroconger sp. in El Planchón could also affect the vertical distribution of the macrofauna, where their relative abundance was homogeneous across the analyzed layers (1-2-3-4-5-10cm). In the other four sites, the abundance of the macrofauna was mainly limited to the first two centimeters of the sediment. Playa Blanca and Remanso showed substrates composed mainly of gravel, recording at the last sampling point the lowest richness, diversity and abundance. Rev. Biol. Trop. 62 (Suppl. 1): 169-188. Epub 2014 February 01.


Keywords: macrofauna, community structure, soft bottom, eastern tropical Pacific, Colombia, Isla Gorgona