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Functional diversity on rocky shores off SW Atlantic: sewage effluents influence and mask the effects of the latitudinal gradient

G. V. Garaffo*, E. N. Llanos, M. A. Saracho Bottero, E. Hines, R. ElĂ­as, M. M. L. Jaubet

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ABSTRACT: Rocky shores are a transitional ecosystem between land and marine environments, and, together with other benthic coastal habitats, have a diverse macrobenthic community. Although there is enough information about the taxonomic diversity of Argentinean rocky shores, studies with a functional approach are scarce. We applied biological traits analysis and functional diversity indices to evaluate the geographic variation of the functional diversity of macrobenthic assemblages on rocky shores along a latitudinal gradient in the southwestern Atlantic (from 37°S to 50°S). A total of 11 beaches with rocky hard substrate belonging to 2 biogeographical provinces (Magellanic and Argentinean) were studied during April 2016. The trait composition of macrobenthic assemblages and functional diversity indices ('Rao's quadratic entropy) varied significantly along the Argentinian coast, suggesting that the latitudinal gradient influences in determining the distribution of species with respect to combinations of trait modalities. Rao's Quadratic Entropy, species richness, evenness, and Shannon-Wiener diversity showed a pattern with higher values in the sites located in high latitudes. The functional diversity patterns found coincide with the biogeographical provinces. The presence of intertidal sewage effluents considerably influence functional diversity and mask the effects of the latitudinal gradient on the macrobenthic communities on rocky shores.