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Modelling fixed plant and algal dynamics in rivers: an application to the River Frome

By Attila N. Lazar, A. J. Wade, Paul G Whitehead and C. M. Heppell


The development of eutrophication in river systems is poorly understood given the complex relationship between fixed plants, algae, hydrodynamics, water chemistry and solar radiation. However there is a pressing need to understand the relationship between the ecological status of\ud rivers and the controlling environmental factors to help the reasoned implementation of the Water Framework Directive and Catchment Sensitive Farming in the UK. This research aims to create a dynamic, process-based, mathematical in-stream model to simulate the growth and competition of different vegetation types (macrophytes, phytoplankton and benthic algae) in rivers. The model,\ud applied to the River Frome (Dorset, UK), captured well the seasonality of simulated vegetation types (suspended algae, macrophytes, epiphytes, sediment biofilm). Macrophyte results showed that local knowledge is important for explaining unusual changes in biomass. Fixed algae simulations indicated the need for the more detailed representation of various herbivorous grazer groups,\ud however this would increase the model complexity, the number of model parameters and the required observation data to better define the model. The model results also highlighted that simulating only phytoplankton is insufficient in river systems, because the majority of the suspended algae have benthic origin in short retention time rivers. Therefore, there is a need for modelling tools that link the benthic and free-floating habitats

Year: 2010
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