Trait-based and taxonomic macrofauna community patterns in the upwelling ecosystem of the southeastern Arabian sea
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Coastal upwelling that occurs in the eastern Arabian Sea (EAS) drive the complex dynamics of the food chain. Macrofauna plays a key role in the functioning of coastal ecosystems, but few studies explored the taxonomic and functional patterns of macrofaunal communities under the influence of upwelling. These patterns have been investigated in this study by sampling macrofauna and environmental variables during March-December 2012 across six depths (13-100 m) over the continental shelf off Kochi, south EAS. Upwelling, set over outer shelf prior to March, occupies the entire shelf by May, peaked during June-July and withdrew rapidly by September. A total of 203 macrofaunal taxa were collected in this study. Multivariate analysis revealed that the macrofaunal composition showed a spatiotemporal variation. Taxonomic diversity increases from nearshore to mid shelf whereas abundance and biomass decreased. Macrobenthic functioning, assessed through Biological Trait Analyses, displayed similar trait modalities between depths and seasons but abundance driven differences in trait expression revealed important habitat filtering. Increase in organic matter and decrease in dissolved oxygen influenced by upwelling and the spatial variation in sediment texture were the strongest drivers of the macrofaunal taxonomic pattern. We suggest that taxonomic and biological trait information needs to be considered in ecological studies as it provides a better understanding of how biodiversity responds to and interacts with environmental changes.
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