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Assessing biomass and primary production of microphytobenthos in depositional coastal systems using spectral information
Jacobs, P.; Pitarch, J.; Kromkamp, J.C.; Philippart, C.J.M. (2021). Assessing biomass and primary production of microphytobenthos in depositional coastal systems using spectral information. PLoS One 16(7): e0246012.

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In: PLoS One. Public Library of Science: San Francisco. ISSN 1932-6203; e-ISSN 1932-6203, meer
Peer reviewed article  

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  • Jacobs, P., meer
  • Pitarch, J., meer
  • Kromkamp, J.C.
  • Philippart, C.J.M., meer

    In depositional intertidal coastal systems, primary production is dominated by benthic microalgae (microphytobenthos) inhabiting the mudflats. This benthic productivity is supporting secondary production and supplying important services to humans including food provisioning. Increased frequencies of extreme events in weather (such as heatwaves, storm surges and cloudbursts) are expected to strongly impact the spatiotemporal dynamics of the microphytobenthos and subsequently their contribution to coastal food webs. Within north-western Europe, the years 2018 and 2019 were characterized by record-breaking summer temperatures and accompanying droughts. Field-calibrated satellite data (Sentinel 2) were used to quantify the seasonal dynamics of microphytobenthos biomass and production at an unprecedented spatial and temporal resolution during these years. We demonstrate that the Normalized Difference Vegetation Index (NDVI) should be used with caution in depositional coastal intertidal systems, because it may reflect import of remains of allochthonous pelagic productivity rather than local benthic biomass. We show that the reduction in summer biomass of the benthic microalgae cannot be explained by grazing but was most probably due to the high temperatures. The fivefold increase in salinity from January to September 2018, resulting from reduced river run-off during this exceptionally dry year, cannot have been without consequences for the vitality of the microphytobenthos community and its resistance to wind stress and cloud bursts. Comparison to historical information revealed that primary productivity of microphytobenthos may vary at least fivefold due to variations in environmental conditions. Therefore, ongoing changes in environmental conditions and especially extreme events because of climate change will not only lead to changes in spatiotemporal patterns of benthic primary production but also to changes in biodiversity of life under water and ecosystem services including food supply. Satellite MPB data allows for adequate choices in selecting coastal biodiversity conservation and coastal food supply.

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