Phytoplankton production modelling in three marine ecosystems: static versus dynamic approach

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

20 Citations (Scopus)


Phytoplankton productivity is usually determined from water samples incubated at a number of irradiance levels during several hours. The resultant productivity-irradiance (P-E) curves are then used to estimate local and/or global phytoplankton production. However, there is growing evidence that these curves, referred as static, underestimate phytoplankton photosynthesis to a great deal, by assuming a stable response to light over the incubation period. One of the drawbacks of static P-E curves is the overestimation of photoinhibition. In this work, three one-dimensional vertically resolved models were developed as simply as possible, to investigate differences between static and dynamic phytoplankton productivity in three marine ecosystems: a turbid estuary, a coastal area and an open ocean ecosystem. The results show that, when photoinhibition development time is considered (dynamic model), the primary production estimates are always higher than when calculated with the static model. The quantitative importance of these differences varies with the type of ecosystem and it appears to be more important in coastal areas and estuaries (from 21 to 72%) than in oceanic waters (10%). Thus, these results suggest that primary production estimates, obtained under the assumption of a static behaviour response to light, may underestimate the real values of global phytoplankton primary production. Calculations suggest that the quantitative importance of this underestimation may be larger than the global missing carbon sink.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)299-316
Number of pages18
JournalEcological Modelling
Issue number3-4
Publication statusPublished - 21 Jun 2006


  • P-E relationship
  • Photoinhibition parameter
  • Phytoplankton production
  • Static and dynamic modelling


Dive into the research topics of 'Phytoplankton production modelling in three marine ecosystems: static versus dynamic approach'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this