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Microphytobenthos potential productivity estimated in three tidal embayments of the San Francisco Bay system

June 1, 2002

In this paper we describe a three-step procedure to infer the spatial heterogeneity in microphytobenthos primary productivity at the scale of tidal estuaries and embayments. The first step involves local measurement of the carbon assimilation rate of benthic microalgae to determine the parameters of the photosynthesis-irradiance (P-E) curves (using non-linear optimization methods). In the next step, a resampling technique is used to rebuild pseudo-sampling distributions of the local productivity estimates; these provide error estimates for determining the significance level of differences between sites. The third step combines the previous results with deterministic models of tidal elevation and solar irradiance to compute mean and variance of the daily areal primary productivity over an entire intertidal mudflat area within each embayment. This scheme was applied on three different intertidal mudflat regions of the San Francisco Bay estuary during autumn 1998. Microphytobenthos productivity exhibits strong (ca. 3-fold) significant differences among the major sub-basins of San Francisco Bay. This spatial heterogeneity is attributed to two main causes: significant differences in the photosynthetic competence (P-E parameters) of the microphytobenthos in the different sub-basins, and spatial differences in the phase shifts between the tidal and solar cycles controlling the exposure of intertidal areas to sunlight. The procedure is general and can be used in other estuaries to assess the magnitude and patterns of spatial variability of microphytobenthos productivity at the level of the ecosystems.

Publication Year 2002
Title Microphytobenthos potential productivity estimated in three tidal embayments of the San Francisco Bay system
DOI 10.1007/BF02695983
Authors Jean-Marc Guarini, James E. Cloern, Jody L. Edmunds, Philippe Gros
Publication Type Article
Publication Subtype Journal Article
Series Title Estuaries
Index ID 70175109
Record Source USGS Publications Warehouse
USGS Organization San Francisco Bay-Delta; Pacific Regional Director's Office