|Assessing benthic productivity in the Oosterschelde estuary, The Netherlands|
Bastiaan, J. (2018). Assessing benthic productivity in the Oosterschelde estuary, The Netherlands. MSc Thesis. NIOZ Royal Institute for Sea Research: Yerseke.
Primary production in marine environments takes place through phytoplankton, which occurs both in pelagic and benthic forms. In marine estuaries, which receive a large amount of nutrients through fluvial and agricultural input, many organisms depend on phytoplankton. Microphytobenthos are important building blocks of intertidal areas, as many organisms depend on their presence, and assessing their primary production rates in various areas in a seasonal timeframe, both intertidal and subtidal, is important to explain other ecosystem services. Sampling was done in three intertidal and three subtidal areas in the Eastern Scheldt estuary, the Netherlands, containing muddy and sandy sediment types. Oxygen incubations, both in the dark and with varying levels of light were carried out in a climate controlled room to assess the amount of oxygen consumption and production. Consumption in subtidal areas showed a significant seasonality (p = 0.02; ANOVA), with consumption being lower in winter than in summer. Furthermore, the subtidal locations had significantly different oxygen fluxes (p = 0.042; ANOVA) from each other. The shallowest location in subtidal areas has a potential presence of benthic primary production, which is a first in the Eastern Scheldt estuary.