ABSTRACT. Introduction: Rhodoliths are biogenic structures distributed worldwide, formed by several types of calcareous algae. They may host a great diversity of marine invertebrates, among which polychaetes are conspicuous and diversified representatives. Rhodolith beds are notwithstanding vulnerable to several human activities (e.g. exploitation of commercial species associated with rhodoliths, petroleum exploration, fishing activities, effluent discharges, and tourism), which may compromise that diversity. Tourism is presently increasing its impact on rhodolith beds. Global warming and ocean acidification are also determinant factors in faunal change. Objective: to analyse the polychaete assemblages associated with rhodolith beds subject to different intensities of touristic pressure at Seixas Beach (NE Brazil), where tourism is gradually increasing over time. Methods: Effects were evaluated at two depths, 1.5 m and 4.0 m. Sampling was done every two months during 2015, encompassing the two marked seasons of the year in the region (rainy and dry). Quadrats of 15 x 15 cm were placed in each depth during sampling. All rhodoliths present within the quadrat were collected (usually four to five rhodoliths). Our hypothesis was that the deeper depth and the samples from the dry season months would be increasingly subject to the impact of tourism. Results: Overall, 49 species were found (from 21 different families), and a total of 733 individuals were collected. The most abundant species was Eunice wasinensis (280 individuals, 38.2% of total abundance). The species Eurythoe complanata, Eunice biannulata, E. wasinensis, Lysidice ninetta, Oxydromus pugettensis and Ceratonereis (Ceratonereis) singularis appeared in all months. The study detected a tendency for higher diversity to occur at the depth of 1.5 m for all indices, but only the Shannon-Wiener values were significantly higher there (p < 0.05). No clear differences were found regarding months or season. Conclusions: These results suggest that a higher potential pressure due to tourism may occur at 4.0 m due to more intense craft shipping activities (traffic of catamaran boats transporting tourists to and from the reefs) in that area.


Keywords: Annelida, Catamarans, Disturbance, Hard substrate, Tropical coast.