Las Perlas Archipelago (LPA) is located off the Pacific Coast of Panama and was designated as a marine protected area (MPA) in 2007. This baseline study of the shallow and deeper sedimentary habitats of the islands partly informed the MPA designation. Ninety-two grab stations and twenty trawl stations were sampled. Sediment grab sample results were interpolated to produce a map that showed the area to be dominated by mud (1246 km2, 40%) and sand/shell sediments (780 km2, 25%). A total of 201 taxa were recorded and over 5800 individual specimens were processed, revealing that the sediments hold varying community compositions, with annelids being the dominant group (73%) followed by crustaceans (14%). Relationships were evident between community, feeding guilds, and sediment types, which give an indication of communities that can be expected in similar sediments in other areas of the Tropical Eastern Pacific. A study of this scale and level of detail is rare for this biogeographic region and provides a valuable, comprehensive appreciation of the LPA's benthos. © 2008 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.
- Benthic invertebrate communities
- Pacific Panama