Spatio-temporal dynamics of a planktonic system and chlorophyll distribution in a 2D spatial domain: matching model and data



Valenti D, Denaro G, Ferreri R, Genovese S, Aronica S, Mazzola S, Bonanno A, Basilone G, Spagnolo B.


Sci Rep. 2017 Mar 16;7(1):220. doi: 10.1038/s41598-017-00112-z.


Field data on chlorophyll distribution are investigated in a two-dimensional spatial domain of the Mediterranean Sea by using for phytoplankton abundances an advection-diffusion-reaction model, which includes real values for physical and biological variables. The study exploits indeed hydrological and nutrients data acquired in situ, and includes intraspecific competition for limiting factors, i.e. light intensity and phosphate concentration. As a result, the model allows to analyze how both the velocity field of marine currents and the two components of turbulent diffusivity affect the spatial distributions of phytoplankton abundances in the Modified Atlantic Water, the upper layer of the water column of the Mediterranean Sea. Specifically, the spatio-temporal dynamics of four phytoplankton populations, responsible for about 80% of the total chlorophyll a, are reproduced. Results for phytoplankton abundances obtained by the model are converted in chlorophyll a concentrations and compared with field data collected in twelve marine sites along the Cape Passero (Sicily)- Misurata (Libya) transect. Statistical checks indicate a good agreement between theoretical and experimental distributions of chlorophyll concentration. The study can be extended to predict the spatio-temporal behaviour of the primary production, and to prevent the consequent decline of some fish species in the Mediterranean Sea.

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Link/DOI: 10.1038/s41598-017-00112-z