A deterministic model quantifying the dynamics of the microphytobenthic biomass in the first centimeter of the mud was formulated as part of the MAST-III/INTRMUD project. The main modelled processes are production by photosynthesis, active vertical migration of the microphytobenthos and global biomass losses, encompassing grazing, mortality and resuspension during immersion periods. The model emphasizes the role of the interface between mud and air, which is crucial for the production. The microalgal biofilm present at the mud surface during day-time emersion periods induces most of the differences between microphytobenthos and phytoplankton communities dynamics. The study of the mathematical properties of the system, under some simplifying assumptions, shows the convergence of the solutions to a stable cyclic equilibrium, in the whole observed range of the frequencies of the physical synchronizers of the production. Resilience time estimates suggest that microphytobenthic biomass attains an equilibrium rapidly, even after a strong perturbation. Around the equilibrium, the local model solutions agree fairly with the in situ observed dynamics of the total biomass. The sensitivity analysis suggests investigating the processes governing biomass losses, which are so far uncertain, and may further vary in space and time. (C) 2000 Elsevier Science Ltd.
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Quantification of the microphytobenthic primary production in european intertidal mudflats - A modelling approach