Publications

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Journal Article
Neira, C, Mendoza G, Porrachia M, Stransky C, Levin LA.  2015.  Macrofaunal recolonization of copper-contaminated sediments in San Diego Bay. Marine Pollution Bulletin. 101:794-804.   10.1016/j.marpolbul.2015.09.023   AbstractWebsite

Effects of Cu-loading on macrofaunal recolonization were examined in Shelter Island Yacht Basin (San Diego Bay, California). Sediments with high and low Cu levels were defaunated and Cu-spiked, translocated, and then placed back into the environment These demonstrated that the alteration observed in benthic communities associated with Cu contamination occurs during initial recolonization. After a 3-month exposure to sediments with varying Cu levels, two primary colonizing communities were identified: (1) a "mouth assemblage" resembling adjacent background fauna associated with low-Cu levels that was more diverse and predominantly dominated by surface- and subsurface-deposit feeders, burrowers, and tube builders, and (2) a "head assemblage" resembling adjacent background fauna associated with high-Cu concentrations, with few dominant species and an increasing importance of carnivores and mobile epifauna. Cu loading can cause reduced biodiversity and lower structural complexity that may last several months if high concentrations persist, with a direct effect on community functioning. (C) 2015 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.

Neira, C, Silva M, Iorizi M, Minale L.  1992.  Marine organic chemistry .5. Asterosaponins from the starfish Heliaster helianthus. Boletin De La Sociedad Chilena De Quimica. 37:139-142. AbstractWebsite

A chemical study of the starfisf Heliaster helianthus is reported. The polar extract yielded four glucosides, a new xylosides 1, thornasterosides A 2, the xyloside 3 with a known aglycone and glacialoside A 4.

Neira, C, Hoeneisen M, Silva M, Minale L.  1985.  Marine organic chemistry, IV. Structure of the principal aglycones from the starfish Meyenaster gelatinosus. Journal of Natural Products. 48:848-848.   10.1021/np50041a031   Abstract
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Neira, C, Grosholz ED, Levin LA, Blake R.  2006.  Mechanisms generating modification of benthos following tidal flat invasion by a Spartina hybrid. Ecological Applications. 16:1391-1404.   10.1890/1051-0761(2006)016[1391:mgmobf]2.0.co;2   AbstractWebsite

Many coastal habitats are being substantially altered by introduced plants. In San Francisco Bay,, California, USA, a hybrid form of the eastern cordgrass Spartina alterniflora is rapidly invading open mudflats in southern and central sections of the Bay, altering habitat, reducing macrofaunal densities, and shifting species composition. The invasion has resulted in significant losses of surface-feeding amphipods, bivalves, and cirratulid polychaetes, while subsurface feeding groups such as tubificid oligochaetes and capitellid polychaetes have been unaffected. In the present paper, we document the causes and mechanisms underlying the changes observed. Through a series of in situ manipulative experiments we examined the influence of hybrid Spartina canopy on a range of physical, chemical, and biological properties. The hybrid Spartina canopy exerted a strong influence on. the hydrodynamic regime, triggering a series of physical, chemical, and biological changes in the benthic system. Relative to tidal flats, water velocity was reduced in hybrid patches, promoting deposition of fine-grained, organic-rich particles. The resulting changes in the sediment environment included increased porewater sulfide concentrations and anoxia, which led to poor survivorship. of surface feeders such as, bivalves, amphipods, and polychaetes. These are key taxa that support higher trophic levels including migratory shorebirds that feed on tidal flats. Altered flow in the Spartina canopy further contributed to changes in barnacle recruitment and resuspension of adult benthic invertebrates. Increased crab-induced predation pressure associated with Spartina invasion also contributed to changes in benthic invertebrate communities. Our results suggest that multiple physical, chemical, biotic, and trophic impacts of the Spartina invasion have resulted in substantial changes in benthic communities that are likely to have important effects on the entire ecosystem.

Sellanes, J, Quiroga E, Neira C.  2008.  Megafauna community structure and trophic relationships at the recently discovered Concepcion Methane Seep Area, Chile, ~36°S. Ices Journal of Marine Science. 65:1102-1111.   10.1093/icesjms/fsn099   AbstractWebsite

The fauna, community composition, and trophic support of the newly discovered Concepcion Methane Seep Area (CMSA) are compared with those at a nearby non-seep control. The assemblage of chemosymbiotic bivalves is defined by eight species, including the families Lucinidae, Thyasiridae, Solemyidae, and Vesicomyidae. Seep polychaetes are represented by Lamellibrachia sp. and two commensal species of the vesicomyid Calyptogena gallardoi. Although taxonomic analysis is still under way, most of the chemosymbiotic species seem to be endemics. The CMSA is a hotspot for non-seep benthic megafauna too; 101 taxa were present, but most of them are colonists or vagrants (i.e. not endemics of methane seeps). Isotope analysis supported the belief that non-symbiont-bearing species utilize photosynthetically fixed carbon, because they were isotopically distinct from the chemosymbiotic bivalve species present. It is our opinion that, at this site, which underlies one of the most productive coastal upwelling regions of the world, spatial heterogeneity and the availability of hard substratum, generated by the presence of authigenic carbonate crusts, are more important factors in attracting non-seep fauna than the availability of locally produced chemosynthetic food.

Neira, C, Sellanes J, Soto A, Gutierrez D, Gallardo VA.  2001.  Meiofauna and sedimentary organic matter off Central Chile: response to changes caused by the 1997-1998 El Nino. Oceanologica Acta. 24:313-328.   10.1016/s0399-1784(01)01149-5   AbstractWebsite

Quantitative surveys of metazoan meiofauna were carried out in an upwelling region off Central Chile (36 degreesS). During May 1997 and May 1998, coinciding with the onset and end of Fl Nino, five benthic stations (respectively 27, 34, 64, 88, and 120 m depth), from the middle of Concepcion Bay to the edge of the adjacent continental shelf, were sampled. The sedimentary organic matter biopolymeric fraction (proteins, carbohydrates and lipids) and chloroplastic pigments were also assessed. Total meiofauna abundance and biomass increased significantly between sampling dates at the mid-bay and inner shelf sites, from 1474 +/- 354 to 5035 +/- 291 individuals 10 cm(-2) and from 2618 +/- 332 to 5241 +/- 903 individuals 10 cm(-2), respectively. The relative importance of copepods in the top 2 cm increased at all sites (except in the bay mouth). During May 1998, meiofauna, especially nematodes, penetrated deeper in the bay, as well as in the inner and middle shelf sediments. Changes observed in meiobenthos structure among sites and periods were attributed to the higher oxygenation of bottom waters during the summer of 1998 (i.e. El Nino conditions). This was most evident at sites such as the mid bay, where during non-EI Nino years, oxygen-deficient conditions prevail. A decrease of organic matter quantity and quality, related to low primary productivity conditions in 1998 (El Nino), apparently caused few changes in meiofauna structure. A positive correlation between Thioploca and the meiofauna biomass was observed in May 1997, whereas in May 1998 no relationship was found. (C) 2001 Ifremer/CNRS/LRD/Editions scientifiques et medicales Elsevier SAS.

Neira, C, Sellanes J, Levin LA, Arntz WE.  2001.  Meiofaunal distributions on the Peru margin: relationship to oxygen and organic matter availability. Deep-Sea Research Part I-Oceanographic Research Papers. 48:2453-2472.   10.1016/s0967-0637(01)00018-8   AbstractWebsite

A quantitative study of metazoan meiofauna was carried out on bathyal sediments (305, 562, 830 and 1210 m) along a transect within and beneath the oxygen minimum zone (OMZ) in the southeastern Pacific off Callao, Peru (12 degreesS). Meiobenthos densities ranged from 1517 (upper slope, middle of OMZ) to 440-548 ind. 10cm(-2) (lower slope stations, beneath the OMZ). Nematodes were the numerically dominant meiofaunal taxon at every station, followed by copepods and nauplii. Increasing bottom-water oxygen concentration and decreasing organic matter availability downslope were correlated with observed changes in meiofaunal abundance. The 300-m site, located in the middle of the OMZ, differed significantly in meiofaunal abundance, dominance, and in vertical distribution pattern from the deeper sites. At 305 m, nematodes amounted to over 99% of total meiofauna; about 70% of nematodes were found in the 2-5 cm. interval. At the deeper sites, about 50% were restricted to the top I cm. The importance of copepods and nauplii increased consistently with depth, reaching similar to 12% of the total meiofauna at the deepest site. The observation of high nematode abundances at oxygen concentrations <0.02mll(-1) supports the hypothesis that densities are enhanced by an indirect positive effect of low oxygen involving (a) reduction of predators and competitors and (b) preservation of organic matter leading to high food availability and quality. Food input and quality, represented here by chloroplastic pigment equivalents (CPE) and sedimentary labile organic compounds (protein, carbohydrates and lipids), were strongly, positively correlated with nematode abundance. By way of contrast, oxygen exhibited a strong negative correlation, overriding food availability, with abundance of other meiofauna such as copepods and nauplii. These taxa were absent at the 300-m site. The high correlation of labile organic matter (C-LOM, sum of carbon contents in lipids, proteins and carbohydrates) with CPE (Pearson's r = 0.99, p <0.01) suggests that most of the sedimentary organic material sampled was of phytodetrital origin. The fraction of sediment organic carbon potentially available to benthic. heterotrophs, measured as C-LOM/Total organic carbon, was on average 17% at all stations. Thus, a residual, refractory fraction, constitutes the major portion of organic matter at the studied bathyal sites. (C) 2001 Elsevier Science Ltd. All rights reserved.

Neira, C, King I, Mendoza G, Sellanes J, De Ley P, Levin LA.  2013.  Nematode community structure along a central Chile margin transect influenced by the oxygen minimum zone. Deep Sea Research Part I: Oceanographic Research Papers. 78:1-15.   10.1016/j.dsr.2013.04.002   AbstractWebsite

Nematodes are among the metazoans most tolerant of low-oxygen conditions and play major roles in seafloor ecosystem processes. Nematode communities were studied in sediments off Concepción, Central Chile, spanning the outer shelf within the OMZ (122 m) to the mid-lower continental slope (972 m) beneath the OMZ. The total density and biomass of nematodes (core depth 0–10 cm) ranged from 677 to 2006 ind. 10 cm−2, and 168.4 to 506.5 µg DW 10 cm−2, respectively. Among metazoan meiofaunal taxa, nematodes predominated at all sites both in terms of relative abundance (83.7–99.4%) and biomass (53.8–88.1%), followed by copepods, nauplii and polychaetes. Nematodes were represented by 33 genera distributed among 17 families, with densities greatest at low oxygen sites (122–364 m; ~2000 ind. 10 cm−2). Nematode generic and trophic diversity, and individual biomass were lowest, and Rank 1 dominance was highest, at the most oxygen-depleted site (122 m), despite the fact that the organic carbon content of the sediment was maximal at this depth. At the most oxygenated slope sites (827 and 972 m), all of Wieser's nematode feeding groups were represented. In contrast, at the lowest-oxygen site, only selective deposit (bacterial) feeders (1A) were present, indicating a reduction in trophic complexity. A large percentage of nematodes inhabited subsurface sediment layers (>1 cm). At deeper, more oxygenated sites (827 and 972 m), nematode individual biomass increased downcore, while within the OMZ, nematode biomass was low and remained relatively uniform through the sediment column. The concentration of nematodes in deeper sediment layers, the vertical distribution of the feeding groups, as well as the high nutritional quality of the deeper layers, suggest a differential resource partitioning of the food available, which may reduce interspecific competition.

Neira, C, Decraemer W, Backeljau T.  2005.  A new species of Glochinema (Epsilonematidae : Nematoda) from the oxygen minimum zone off Baja California, NE Pacific and phylogenetic relationships at species level within the family. Cahiers De Biologie Marine. 46:105-126. AbstractWebsite

Glochinema spinithorni sp. nov. is described from muddy, bathyal sediments of the oxygen minimum zone (OMZ) of the north eastern Pacific Ocean off Baja California. It is characterized by a rather large body length (over I mm), a large number of body rings (242-282), sexual dimorphism in the number and position of pharyngeal thorns near the head region, cuticular ornamentation with numerous hairy spines and two sets of stronger spines ventrally in the anterior body half, mid-sized spiral amphids, and by the number and arrangement of ambulatory setae and long spicules (over 100 mu m). The finding of a second OMZ Glochinema species with similar morphological characteristics supports the presumption that OMZs function as isolated habitats promoting endemism at low taxonomic levels. Results of phylogenetic analyses at the species level restricted to the Glochinematinae and Keratonematinae suggest that both OMZ species form a monophyletic group. An attempt was made to recognize phylogenetic relationships at species level within the family. The phylogenetic analyses were based upon a data matrix of 96 ingroup taxa and 25 characters. The results support the monophyly of the genera Leptepsilonema, Metepsilonema, Perepsilonema and Polkepsilonema (with or without Pternepsilonema).

Munoz, P, Salamanca MA, Neira C, Sellanes J.  2004.  Nitrogen sediment fluxes in an upwelling system off central Chile (Concepcion Bay and adjacent shelf) during the 1997-1998 El Nino. Revista Chilena De Historia Natural. 77:305-318.   10.4067S0716-078X2004000200009   AbstractWebsite

Two stations representing coastal and shelf environments (bay of Concepcion and adjacent shelf, respectively) were sampled in order to assess benthic nitrogen fluxes. During the study period anomalously high oxygen bottom waters conditions were observed, coinciding with the 1997-1998 El Nino event. From both sites, intact sediment cores were collected for incubation experiments to directly estimate total ammonium fluxes. Pore-water chemistry was also assessed to estimate diffusive fluxes of nitrogen compounds (NH(4)(+), NO(3)(-) and NO(2)(-)), The NH(4)(+) flux from incubation experiments ranged from 0.55 to 2.18 mmol m(-2) day(-1) in the inner bay and from 1.84 to 2.14 mmol m(-2) day(-1) on the shelf. NO(3)(-) diffusive fluxes to the sediments were observed in the bay in March (-17 x 10(-2) mmol m(-2) day(-1)) and on the shelf in November (-2.7 x 10(-2) mmol m(-2) day(-1)), associated with the lowest NH(4)(+) diffusive fluxes and coincident with a stronger gradient of Eh in the first centimeters of the sediments. Besides, total NH(4)(+) fluxes lower than in normal periods were observed, suggesting the influence of less reducing conditions, consequence in turn of the lower fluxes of particulated organic material and higher dissolved oxygen in the bottom waters. These conditions were probably imposed by the El Nino event. On the other hand, and relative to previous reports, an increase of irrigation coefficients (DI) was estimated. Thus, the flux extension of other nitrogen compounds could have acquired relevance in relation to NH(4)(+) fluxes during the study period.

Zirino, A, Elwany H, Facca C, Maicu F, Neira C, Mendoza G.  2016.  Nitrogen to phosphorus ratio in the Venice (Italy) Lagoon (2001-2010) and its relation to macroalgae. Marine Chemistry. 180:33-41.   10.1016/j.marchem.2016.01.002   AbstractWebsite

Analysis of the annually-averaged 2001-2010 monthly nutrient data from 13 stations in the Venice Lagoon (Italy) shows that the concentrations of dissolved nitrogen (N) species, measured as total dissolved N (TDN), have increased over time while that of phosphorus (P) species, measured as total dissolved P (TDP) have decreased. During the study period, the TDN/TDP ratio in the lagoon rose from about 46:1 to 100:1 (by atoms), a level at which the growth of benthic macroalgae is favored over that of sea grasses. The increase of the TDN/TDP ratio appears to be caused by two factors: (1) a small, but increasing amount of N in river water entering the lagoon, and (2) low P input combined with adsorption and entrapment of orthophosphate on colloidal iron oxides and carbonates at the water-sediment interface. This second mechanism would explain the increase in the TDN/TDP ratio, principally in zones of low salinity, where hydrodynamic residence times are long enough to permit N enrichment and result in macroalgal growth preferentially in the central, landward, side of the lagoon. However, an examination of the algal coverage of the lagoon floor from 2002 to 2010, indicates that while macroalgal abundance may be influenced by the N/P ratio, the spatial and temporal distribution during this period cannot be explained solely by this one feature. Nonetheless, this work points to the importance of considering the contributions that sediments in shallow lagoons make to the over-all system productivity and ecology and may be applicable to other shallow environments. (C) 2016 Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.

Neira, C, Cossaboon J, Mendoza G, Hoh E, Levin LA.  2017.  Occurrence and distribution of polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons in surface sediments of San Diego Bay marinas. Marine Pollution Bulletin. 114:466-479.   10.1016/j.marpolbul.2016.10.009   Abstract

Polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs) have garnered much attention due to their bioaccumulation, carcinogenic properties, and persistence in the environment. Investigation of the spatial distribution, composition, and sources of PAHs in sediments of three recreational marinas in San Diego Bay, California revealed significant differences among marinas, with concentrations in one site exceeding 16,000 ng g− 1. ‘Hotspots’ of PAH concentration suggest an association with stormwater outfalls draining into the basins. High-molecular weight PAHs (4–6 rings) were dominant (> 86%); the average percentage of potentially carcinogenic PAHs was high in all sites (61.4–70%) but ecotoxicological risks varied among marinas. Highly toxic benzo(a)pyrene (BaP) was the main contributor (> 90%) to the total toxic equivalent quantity (TEQ) in marinas. PAHs in San Diego Bay marina sediments appear to be derived largely from pyrogenic sources, potentially from combustion products that reach the basins by aerial deposition and stormwater drainage from nearby streets and parking lots.

Neira, C, Vales M, Mendoza G, Hoh E, Levin LA.  2018.  Polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs) in recreational marina sediments of San Diego Bay, southern California. Marine Pollution Bulletin. 126:204-214.   10.1016/j.marpolbul.2017.10.096   AbstractWebsite

Polychlorinated biphenyl (PCB) concentrations were determined in surface sediments from three recreational marinas in San Diego Bay, California. Total PCB concentrations ranged from 23 to 153, 31-294, and 151-1387 ng g(-1) for Shelter Island Yacht Basin (SIYB), Harbor Island West (HW) and Harbor Island East (HE), respectively. PCB concentrations were significantly higher in HE and PCB group composition differed relative to HW and SIYB, which were not significantly different from each other in concentration or group composition. In marina sediments there was a predominance (82-85%) of heavier molecular weight PCBs with homologous groups (6CL-7CL) comprising 59% of the total. In HE 75% of the sites exceeded the effect range median (ERM), and toxicity equivalence (TEQ dioxin-like PCBs) values were higher relative to those of HW and SIYB, suggesting a potential ecotoxicological risk.

Neira, C, Hopner T.  1994.  The role of Heteromastus filiformis (Capitellidae, Polychaeta) in organic carbon cycling. Ophelia. 39:55-73. AbstractWebsite

Carbon transport rates were estimated from the pellet production rates and the organic carbon content of fresh fecal pellets of Heteromastus filiformis. With an annual mean individual density of 1.200 per m2, an annual mean pellet production of 36 kg/m2 (dry weight) and an annual mean carbon content of 2% in the pellets, Heteromastus brings from about 20 cm depth to the surface 2 g C/m2/day or 730 g C/m2/year. In fresh fecal pellets the content of finer particles was two-fold, and the content of organic carbon in the pellets was 2.4-fold higher than in the feeding zone sediment. Fine particles in the pellets are richer in organic carbon and protein than those in deep sediment. This points to selective feeding. Meiofauna accelerated the destruction of Heteromastus pellets. After 20 days in the presence of meiofauna, only 15% of the initial pellets were still intact, i.e. with sharp margins, while 79% were partially destructed but were still recognizable as such. In the absence of meiofauna 96% of the pellets were still intact. Results are discussed with respect to feeding strategies and contribution to carbon recycling.

Zirino, A, Elwany H, Neira C, Maicu F, Mendoza G, Levin LA.  2014.  Salinity and its variability in the Lagoon of Venice, 2000–2009. Advances in Oceanography and Limnology. 5:41-59.: Taylor & Francis   10.1080/19475721.2014.900113   Abstract

Yearly averages computed from monthly and bimonthly salinity data collected between 2000 and 2009 from 13 broadly spaced stations in the Venice Lagoon were analysed in view of 30 min data collected semi-continuously during 2009 at nine similarly located stations. Data from all stations and all years indicate that, based on yearly averages, the lagoon may be divided along its major (long) axis into three areas: 1) a northern, freshwater impacted area (S = <28 PSU) of high, tidally-caused, variability, 2) a southern, marine, zone of S >32 PSU of low, tidally-caused, variability, and 3) an intermediate zone. Salinity changes are closely associated with rainfall events, and the incoming freshwater is consistently distributed throughout the lagoon by tidal action. Much variability is simply a result of the forward and backward motion of the tides and is not caused by a salinity change in the water itself. The consistency of the 2000?2009 data and the historical (to 1961) watershed record support the hypothesis that the Venice Lagoon has been and is currently at steady-state with respect to its salinity distribution. As such, it is conducive to the development of (at least) three separate ecosystems.

Neira, C, Delgadillo-Hinojosa F, Zirino A, Mendoza G, Levin LA, Porrachia M, Deheyn DD.  2009.  Spatial distribution of copper in relation to recreational boating in a California shallow-water basin. Chemistry and Ecology. 25:417-433.   10.1080/02757540903334197   AbstractWebsite

The overall effect of the number of boats on the copper (Cu) levels in the water column and sediment, along with their spatial variability within Shelter Island Yacht Basin (SIYB), San Diego Bay, California was examined. We identified a horizontal gradient of increasing dissolved Cu and Cu in sediment from outside to the head of SIYB which was coincident with the increasing number of boats. Spatial models of Cu distribution in water and sediment indicated the presence of 'hotspots' of Cu concentration. From outside to the head of SIYB, dissolved Cu ranged from 1.3 gL-1 to 14.6 gL-1 in surface water, and 2.0 gL-1 to 10.2 gL-1 in bottom water. Cu in sediment exceeded the Effect Range Low of 34mgkg-1 (i.e. where adverse effects to fauna may occur), with a peak concentration of 442mgkg-1 at the head of the basin. Free Cu++ in surface water was several orders of magnitude higher than in sediment porewater. High-resolution data of Cu species together with probability maps presented in this paper will allow managers to easily visualise and localise areas of impaired quality and to prioritise which areas should be targeted to improve Cu-related conditions.

Thurber, AR, Kroger K, Neira C, Wiklund H, Levin LA.  2010.  Stable isotope signatures and methane use by New Zealand cold seep benthos. Marine Geology. 272:260-269.   10.1016/j.margeo.2009.06.001   AbstractWebsite

The carbon isotopic composition of seep faunal tissue represents a time-integrated view of the interaction between biology and the biogeochemical gradients within the environment. Here we provide an initial description of carbon and nitrogen stable isotope signatures of dominant symbiont-bearing megafauna and heterotrophic mega- and macrofauna from 10 methane-seep sites on the continental margin of the North Island of New Zealand (662-1201 m water depth). Isotopic signatures suggest that sulfide oxidation supports symbiont-bearing taxa including solemyid and vesicomyid bivalves, and methanotrophic symbionts are present in the seep mussel Bathymodiolus sp Multiple species of Frenulata (Siboglinidae) are present and have a range of isotopic values that are indicative of both thiotroph- and methanotroph-based nutrition. Isotopic composition of the tubeworm Lamellibrachia sp. varied by 23 3 parts per thousand among individuals although there was no consistent difference among sites Variation in methane use by heterotrophic fauna appears to reflect the availability of hard vs. soft substrate, macrofauna on hard substrates had high delta(13)C signatures, reflecting consumption of photosynthetic-derived organic matter Two unique, biotic assemblages were discovered to be fueled largely by methane: a hard-substrate, multi-phyla sponge-associated community (inhabiting the sponge Pseudosuberites sp) and a soft-sediment assemblage dominated by ampharetid polychaetes Isotope signatures yield estimates of 38-100% and 6-100% methane-derived carbon in sponge associates and ampharetid-bed macrofauna. respectively. These estimates are comparable to those made for deeper methane seeps at the Florida Escarpment (3290 m) and Kodiak. Alaska seeps (4445 m) The overall high use of methane as a carbon source by both symbiont-bearing and heterotrophic fauna suggests that New Zealand methane seeps are an ideal model system to study the interaction among metazoans, bacteria, archaea, and their resulting effect on methane cycles. (C) 2009 Elsevier B V All rights reserved

Thesis
Neira, C.  1992.  Benthic fecal pellets. Cycling of sediment and organic carbon by Heteromastus filiformis. Ph.D., Oldenburg, Germany: Universität Oldenburg Abstract
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