Despite a large amount of climatic and oceanographic information dealing with the recurring climate phenomenon El Niño (EN) and its well known impact on diversity of marine benthic communities, most published data are rather descriptive and consequently our understanding of the underlying mechanisms and processes that drive community structure during EN are still very scarce. In this study, we address two questions on the effects of EN on macrozoobenthic communities: (1) how does EN affect species diversity of the communities in northern Chile? and (2) is EN a phenomenon that restarts community assembling processes by affecting species interactions in northern Chile? To answer these questions, we compared species diversity and co-occurrence patterns of soft-bottoms macrozoobenthos communities from the continental shelf off northern Chile during (March 1998) and after (September 1998) the strong EN event 1997–1998. The methods used varied from species diversity and species co-occurrence analyses to multivariate ordination methods. Our results indicate that EN positively affects diversity of macrozoobenthos communities in the study area, increasing the species richness and diversity and decreasing the species dominance. EN represents a strong disturbance that affects species interactions that rule the species assembling processes in shallow-water, sea-bottom environments
To submit an update or takedown request for this paper, please submit an Update/Correction/Removal Request.