We formulate a deterministic mathematical model to describe the dynamics of the microphytobenthos of intertidal mudflats. It is 'minimal' because it only takes into account the essential processes governing the functioning of the system: the autotrophic production, the active upward and downward migrations of epipelic microalgae, the saturation of the mud surface by a biofilm of diatoms and the global net loss rates of biomass. According to the photic environment of the benthic diatoms inhabiting intertidal mudflats, and to their migration rhythm, the model is composed of two sub-systems of ordinary differential equations; they describe the simultaneous evolution of the biomass 'S' concentrated in the mud surface biofilm - the photic layer - and of the biomass 'F' diluted in the topmost centimetre of the mud - the aphotic layer. Qualitatively, the model solutions agree fairly well with the in situ observed dynamics of the S + F biomass. The study of the mathematical properties of the model, under some simplifying assumptions, shows the convergence of solutions to a stable cyclic equilibrium, whatever the frequencies of the physical synchronizers of the production. The sensitivity analysis reveals the necessity of a better knowledge of the processes of biomass losses, which so far are uncertain, and may further vary in space and time.
Additional Publication Details
Short-term dynamics of intertidal microphytobenthic biomass. Mathematical modelling [La dynamique a court terme de la biomasse du microphytobenthos intertidal. Formalisation mathematique]
Comptes Rendus de l'Academie des Sciences - Serie III