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MEPS 736:1-18 (2024)  -  DOI:

Complex network of trophic interactions in Burdwood Bank, a sub-Antarctic oceanic marine protected area

Tomás I. Marina1,*, Irene R. Schloss1,2,3, Gustavo A. Lovrich1, Claudia C. Boy1, Daniel O. Bruno1,3, Fabiana L. Capitanio4,5, Sergio M. Delpiani6, Juan Martín Díaz de Astarloa6, Cintia Fraysse1, Virginia A. García Alonso4,5, Andrea Raya Rey1,3,7, Laura Schejter8, Mariela L. Spinelli4,5, Marcos Tatián9,10, Diego Urteaga11, Luciana Riccialdelli1

1Centro Austral de Investigaciones Científicas (CADIC-CONICET), V9410 Ushuaia, Argentina
2Instituto Antártico Argentino (IAA), 1650 San Martín, Argentina
3Instituto de Ciencias Polares, Ambiente y Recursos Naturales (ICPA), Universidad de Tierra del Fuego (UNTDF), V9410 Ushuaia, Argentina
4Facultad de Ciencias Exactas y Naturales, Universidad de Buenos Aires (UBA), C1428EGA Ciudad Autónoma de Buenos Aires, Argentina
5Instituto de Biodiversidad y Biología Experimental y Aplicada (IBBEA), Universidad de Buenos Aires-CONICET, C1428EGA Ciudad Autónoma de Buenos Aires, Argentina
6Instituto de Investigaciones Marinas y Costeras (IIMYC), Universidad Nacional de Mar del Plata-CONICET, 7600 Mar del Plata, Argentina
7Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS), Representación Argentina, C1526AKC Ciudad Autónoma de Buenos Aires, Argentina
8Instituto Nacional de Investigación y Desarrollo Pesquero (INIDEP), Consejo Nacional de Investigaciones Científicas y Técnicas (CONICET), B7602HSA Mar del Plata, Argentina
9Facultad de Ciencias Exactas, Físicas y Naturales, Universidad Nacional de Córdoba (UNC), X5016GCA Córdoba, Argentina
10Instituto de Diversidad y Ecología Animal (IDEA-CONICET), 5000 Córdoba, Argentina
11Museo Argentino de Ciencias Naturales ‘Bernardino Rivadavia’, C1405DJR Ciudad Autónoma de Buenos Aires, Argentina
*Corresponding author:

ABSTRACT: The world’s oceans designated under marine protection have increased recently. Most marine protected areas (MPAs) target vulnerable, keystone, charismatic, and/or endemic species. In the sub-Antarctic, ocean protection is associated with oceanic islands, except for the MPAs Namuncurá-Burdwood Bank I and II (MPA N-BB; ~53-55°S, ~56-62°W), which are associated with a submarine plateau and a southern deep slope, respectively. We present the first analysis of the predator-prey network for the MPA N-BB, applying a topological network approach to characterise the complexity and structure of the food web and to identify the species’ role. The MPA N-BB food web consists of 1788 interactions and 379 species, with a connectance of 0.01. Almost half of the consumers feed at more than one trophic level (0.48), and the network displays a small-world pattern (short path length, high clustering of compartments). This network pattern suggests that the ecosystem might be vulnerable to perturbations targeting highly connected species, although some properties might provide resilience and resistance, resulting in a rearranged structure that preserves its original functions. Several species arise as being important in trophic structure and functioning and response to perturbations. Generalist species, mainly fishes, play a crucial role in the bentho-pelagic coupling and should be considered as relevant energy transfer agents for the ecosystem. We argue that the diversity of species, including both the benthic and pelagic habitats, is responsible for securing the connectivity within the food web to withstand perturbations, thereby contributing to the structure and stability of the ecosystem.

KEY WORDS: Food web · Complexity · Structure · Namuncurá · Burdwood Bank · Southwest Atlantic

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Cite this article as: Marina TI, Schloss IR, Lovrich GA, Boy CC and others (2024) Complex network of trophic interactions in Burdwood Bank, a sub-Antarctic oceanic marine protected area. Mar Ecol Prog Ser 736:1-18.

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