A pseudo-two-dimensional model is developed to simulate population dynamics of one dominant phytoplankton species (Skeletonema costatum) in northern San Francisco Bay. The model is formulated around a conceptualization of this estuary as two distinct but coupled subsystems-a deep (10-20 m) central channel and lateral areas with shallow (<2 m) water and slow circulation. Algal growth rates are governed by solar irradiation, temperature and salinity, while population losses are assumed to result from grazing bycalanoid copepods. Consequences of estuarine gravitational circulation are approximated simply by reducing convective-dispersive transport in that section of the channel (null zone) where residual bottom currents are near zero, and lateral mixing is treated as a bulkexchange process between the channel and the shoals. Model output is consistent with the hypothesis that, because planktonic algae are light-limited, shallow areas are the sites of active population growth. Seasonal variation in the location of the null zone (a response to variable river discharge) is responsible for maintaining the spring bloom of neritic diatoms in the seaward reaches of the estuary (San Pablo Bay) and the summer bloom upstream (Suisun Bay). Model output suggests that these spring and summer blooms result from the same general process-establishment of populations over the shoals, where growth rates are rapid, coupled with reduced particulate transport due to estuarine gravitational circulation. It also suggests, however, that the relative importance of physical and biological processes to phytoplankton dynamics is different in San Pablo and Suisun Bays. Finally, the model has helped us determine those processes having sufficient importance to merit further refinement in the next generation of models, and it has given new direction to field studies. ?? 1981 Academic Press Inc. (London) Ltd.
Additional publication details
Simulation model of Skeletonema costatum population dynamics in northern San Francisco Bay, California