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Originele titel: Eutrophication and the structure of coastal planktonic food-webs: mechanisms and modelling
Overkoepelend project: Research action SPSD-I: Sustainable management of the North Sea, meer
Referentie nr.: MN/DD1/002
Periode: Januari 1997 tot December 2001
Thesaurustermen: Eutrofiëring; Fytoplankton; Kustwateren; Modellering; Nutriënten; Waterkwaliteit; Zooplankton
Geografische termen: ANE, België, Belgisch Continentaal Plat (BCP) [gazetteer]; ANE, Noordzee, Zuidelijke Bocht [gazetteer]
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- ECOL: Vrije Universiteit Brussel; Faculteit Wetenschappen; Vakgroep Biologie; Laboratorium voor Ecologie en Systematiek, meer
- ESA: Université Libre de Bruxelles; Section interfacultaire d'Agronomie; Ecologie des systèmes aquatiques, meer
- KBIN-BMM: Koninklijk Belgisch Instituut voor Natuurwetenschappen; Departement Beheer van het Mariene Ecosysteem; Beheerseenheid Mathematisch Model Noordzee en Schelde-estuarium; Brussel, meer
- BELSPO: Federaal Wetenschapsbeleid, meer, financier
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The coastal waters of the Southern Bight of the North Sea receive large quantities of nutrients of antropogenic origin via rivers and the atmosphere. Eutrophication is apparent in the coastal zone in the form of undesirable qualitative changes in the structure and functioning of the planktonic ecosystem, and can be observed in the form of occasional accumulation of foul-smelling foam on beaches. Guaranteeing sustainable North Sea resources for future generations and protecting the quality of coastal waters is now both a national and an international concern. National and international regulations on sewage treatment facilities and farming practices aiming at the reduction of nutrient supply to the coastal sea have already been implemented in the various countries which border the North Sea. However, the scientific knowledge needed for a rational estimate of the reduction required and of the nutrient(s) which have highest priority for reduction (ammonium, nitrates and/or phosphates) is currently lacking.
This research project contributes to the implementation of an integrated land-coastal zone research methodology to assess and predict the eutrophication level of the coastal North Sea and the associated undesirable effects. The ultimate aim is to reduce the current context of uncertainty in which decisions to counteract the eutrophication of the North Sea and protect its natural resources are made.
The environmental questions involved
What is the natural capacity of the coastal North Sea planktonic system to absorb surplus nutrients resulting from human activities in the surrounding river basins ?
What is the level of nutrient reduction required to protect biological resources from the harmful effect of nutrient enrichment?
What are the relative contributions made by natural processes and human activities to the phenome-non of eutrophication and is there a synergy?
To establish an observational data base of key biogeochemical parameters from which changes in the quality of North Sea coastal waters can be monitored, signs of future deterioration can be rapidly detected and the positive and negative results of new purification regulations can be evaluated.
Sampling site selected: station 330, 20 miles offshore of Ostend and subject to the influence of water from the Scheldt. The reference station has been sampled by ULB-GMMA since 1988 under the joint framework of the National Programmes for joint Oceanographic Research Activities and the Impulse in Marine Science and the European Commission's Environment and MAST Programmes (Phaeocystis projects and COMWEB). Results so far indicate that station 330 is sensitive to disturbances induced both by natural changes (meteorological conditions) and/or by anthropogenic factors. The current set of nutrient and phytoplankton monitoring parameters has been extended to secondary trophic levels.
To improve understanding of the mechanisms which structure coastal trophic networks in response to changes in the input of nutrients.
Two principal questions will be dealt with and studied by conducting process-level studies in natural and laboratory-controlled conditions :
. How does the structure of the phytoplankton community change when the input of nutrients alters?
. And what are the related changes in the higher trophic levels, particularly zooplankton?
The knowledge gained will be integrated in a mathematical model resulting from the ‘on-line’ coupling of a 1km-resolution 2D-hydrodynamic model simulating the dispersal of the waters of the Scheldt in the coastal zone with an upgraded version of the existing mechanistic biogeochemical model MIRO, revised on the basis of knowledge gained in the process-level studies.
MIRO is an ecological model developed by ULB-GMMA which describes the dynamics of Phaeocystis colonies blooms in the North Sea coastal zone in response to riverine nutrients loa