Successional patterns of hard-bottom macrobenthic communities at kelp bed (Lessonia trabeculata) and barren ground sublittoral systems

Roberto A. Uribe, Marco Ortiz, Erasmo C. Macaya, Aldo S. Pacheco

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22 Scopus citations


Although kelp beds and barren grounds are conspicuous ecological systems in temperate coastal regions, little is known about how these systems develop throughout succession; neither their trajectories nor their putative seral stages are presently well documented or understood. Herein, we present the results of a field study in northern Chile aimed to investigate the succession development of macrobenthic communities dominated by kelp Lessonia trabeculata and by crustose coralline algae (barren ground). At both sublittoral habitats, ceramic plates were deployed and the process of colonisation was then followed for 14. months with the aim of describing and comparing the successional patterns of the benthic community. At both ecological systems, taxonomic richness, density and percentage of cover increased throughout time, although fewer species colonised the artificial substrate at the barren ground. Many species were common colonisers at both ecological systems; however, the structure diverged as different species were added to each colonising community. Our results suggest that the succession in kelp beds and barren grounds was habitat and community-specific following an early to advance sequence of development.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)180-188
Number of pages9
JournalJournal of Experimental Marine Biology and Ecology
StatePublished - 1 Nov 2015

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
We appreciate the help of A. Ramírez, J. Rassa, M. Cerda, J. Bravo, E. Nahualhuen, P. Coronado, R. Torres, E. Montanares and the facilities provided by Santa Maria S.A. during field work. M. Malebran provided taxonomic support. M. Rojo gently provided light and temperature loggers. Comments by two anonymous reviewers help us to improve an early version of this manuscript. R. A. Uribe was supported by grant MECESUP/MECE ANT0711 . Partial support was provided by a FONDECYT fund No. 11110030 granted to A.S. Pacheco. [SW]

Publisher Copyright:
© 2015 Elsevier B.V.


  • Artificial substratum
  • Colonisation
  • Hard-bottom habitat
  • Humboldt Current System
  • Lessonia trabeculata
  • Sublittoral


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