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Ecosystem dynamics at six contrasting sites: a generic modelling study
Blackford, J.C.; Allen, J.I.; Gilbert, F.J. (2004). Ecosystem dynamics at six contrasting sites: a generic modelling study. J. Mar. Syst. 52(1-4): 191–215. hdl.handle.net/10.1016/j.jmarsys.2004.02.004
In: Journal of Marine Systems. Elsevier: Tokyo; Oxford; New York; Amsterdam. ISSN 0924-7963, more
Peer reviewed article  

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Keywords
Author keywords
    ERSEM; ERSEM-2004; Ecosystem model; Plankton community;

Authors  Top 
  • Blackford, J.C.
  • Allen, J.I.
  • Gilbert, F.J.

Abstract
    A pelagic marine ecosystem simulation model ERSEM-2004, developed from the European Regional Seas Ecosystem Model (ERSEM II), is presented along with a parameter set applicable to six highly contrasting sites, ranging from a temperate mixed shelf station to a permanently stratified tropical deep-ocean station. The physical characteristics are simulated by direct coupling to a 1D vertically resolved turbulence model, parameterised for each site. A mathematical description of the pelagic ecosystem model is presented. Additions to ERSEM II's well resolved community and decoupling of gross production and ambient nutrient concentration include variable carbon to chlorophyll ratios, coupling of bacterial production to nutrient availability, improved resolution of the organic particulate and dissolved fractions and developments to the mesozooplankton description. Comparison of seasonally depth resolved and integrated properties illustrates that the model produces a wide range of community dynamics and structures that can be plausibly related to variations in mixing, temperature, irradiance and nutrient supply. The spatial–temporal variability in key environmental indicators only partially correlates with the spatial–temporal variability in community structure (p<0.5). Thus we infer that the complexity of the model's trophic structure and hence that of the marine system is important in defining the ecological response to the environment. A physical description of a marine domain may not be an adequate indicator of marine community structure or function. Particularly, lysis and grazer response are identified as important processes that define ecosystem dynamics and community structure. There is a closer correlation (p>0.75) between spatial–temporal variability in community structure (biomass) and function (production). ERSEM-2004 is shown to be a robust model that is capable of representing a range of systems commonly described in the marine system. Consequently, the model is proposed as a potential basis for an ecosystem-based management tool that may, with appropriate physical representation, be applied over large geographic and temporal scales with utility to both heuristic and predictive studies of the marine lower trophic levels.

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