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Microphytobenthos biomass and community composition vi ere studied by the use of pigment biomarkers during one year at a tidal flat located in the Westerschelde (SW Netherlands). Benthic microphytes appeared to be an important carbon source in the Westerschelde, especially in the central part of the flat with a mean biomass as high as 65 mg Chi a m(-2) in the superficial 1 mm of sediment. Diatoms (fucoxanthin, Chl c) dominated the population during both spring and autumn blooms. In summer microphytobenthic biomass decreased, and diatoms coexisted with Cyanobacteria (zeaxanthin) and Euglenophyceae (Chl b, zeaxanthin and lutein). The shift in the community composition may possibly be linked with the decrease in silicon concentration in the overlying water. The degradation and recycling of microphytobenthic biomass was assessed by the study of degraded chlorophyll pigments, and pigments in deeper sediment layers. The fate of microphytobenthos appears to include rapid bacterial degradation in spring, episodic grazing by benthic animals in surface layers of sediments in the centre of the flat, and export by resuspension in sediments more exposed to currents. [KEYWORDS: microphytobenthos; plant pigments; tidal flats; Westerschelde Performance liquid-chromatography; dutch wadden sea; marine-phytoplankton; coastal sediments; chlorophyll-a; water; algae; atlantic; diatoms; light]
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)59-70
JournalJournal of Sea Research
Issue number1-2
StatePublished - 1997

ID: 51268