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What are the characteristics of benthos?
The marine benthos refers to the set of organisms that make up the community that inhabits the seabed, unlike the plankton and nekton that inhabit the water column.
In soft bottoms, such as sand, there is usually abundant fauna that lives inside the sediment (endofauna or infauna) while hard bottoms, rocks or artificial structures, are characterized by fauna and flora that is fixed to the surface.
The polychaetes, invertebrate organisms, are the most abundant class that make up benthos.
Where do we study marine benthos?
At sea, within the area of influence of the marine terminal of the natural gas liquefaction plant near Chincha, Peru.
What questions do we seek to answer with the study?
What species of marine benthos are present in the study area?
How are the species distributed in the area of influence of the project?
What is the abundance and biomass of the species identified?
Are there impacts of the marine terminal on the marine benthos?
What general results have we obtained to date?
We identified 149 species belonging to 10 Phyla (larger groupings of plants and animals).
The statistical analysis applied did not find differences in abundance and biomass for inter-tidal and sub-tidal species.
In the area closest to the dock there was an increase in abundance and biomass for certain species with a decrease in biodiversity, results that are most likely influenced by the contribution of organic matter by the various species of seabirds that use the dock. These changes were most noticeable in the area near the brine discharge point. This site must be monitored to understand the observed changes and their potential impact on the benthic flora and fauna.
No evidence of introduction of exotic species was detected.
Why is the conservation of marine benthos important?
The marine benthos is a fundamental part of biodiversity in all coastal ecosystems. It is considered a priority component for marine conservation due to its important role in marine ecology.
It is necessary to increase the knowledge of the variability of coastal ecosystems. More taxonomic and ecological studies on marine benthos in coastal ecosystems are necessary.