Abstract

Introduction: The first open-sea (non-coastal) Marine Protected Area in Argentina, named “Namuncurá I” (NMPA), was created in 2013 at Burdwood Bank (BB), an undersea plateau located about 200 km south from Malvinas Islands (Falkland Islands) and 150 km east from Staten Island, SW Atlantic Ocean. It comprises three different management areas: the central one (“core”, strict protection, only control and monitoring activities), surrounded by a “buffer” area (authorized activities, e.g. scientific research) and an external “transition” area (productive and extractive activities contemplated in the Management Plan). Beyond the transition area, only the southern shelf-break is protected, after the creation of the “Namuncurá II” MPA in December 2018. Objective: provide the inventory of polychaetes collected during 2016 and 2017 at the core (98 m depth), buffer (128 m depth), transition (133 m-189 m depth) areas of the Namuncurá I MPA, together with slope areas (220 m-798 m depth). Methods: taken with a trawl net used to characterize the faunal assemblages and to compare results with other Magellan areas. Multidimensional Scaling (MDS) and Cluster Analysis (CA) were applied to a Bray-Curtis similarity index to assess polychaete assemblages in the NMPA - BB slope and Magellan region respectively; SIMPER (Similarity Percentage Analyses) and ANOSIM (Analysis of Similarities) were performed. Results: A total of 918 individuals, which correspond to 39 taxa distributed in 22 families, were recorded in samples from NMPA and BB slope, mainly epibenthic or associated with the large corals collected. Ampharete kerguelensis McIntosh, 1885; Hyalinoecia artifex Verrill, 1880; Idanthyrsus macropaleus (Schmarda, 1861); Laetmonice producta Grube, 1877; Onuphis pseudoiridescens Averincev, 1972; Pista mirabilis McIntosh 1885 and Terebellides malvinensis Bremec & Elias, 1999 constitute new records for Burdwood Bank. A similar polychaete assemblage characterized the three areas of NMPA and slope locations, while H. artifex characterized locations at the NW deepest slope of the bank. Conclusions: These results indicate strong connections between the fauna collected at NMPA and the polychaetes assemblage in other Magellan areas dominated by soft bottoms. The biogeographic importance of the BB as connection for benthic polychaete species between South America and the Antarctic Peninsula merits future investigation.

Keywords: new Marine Protected Area, Burdwood Bank, polychaetes, SW Atlantic Ocean.