Effect of hydro-climate variation on biofilm dynamics and its impact in intertidal environments
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Shallow tidal environments are very productive ecosystems but are sensitive to environmental changes and sea level rise. Bio-morphodynamic control of these environments is therefore a crucial consideration;however, the effect of small-scale biological activity on large-scale cohesive sediment dynamics like tidal basins and estuaries is still largely unquantified. This study advances our understanding by assessing the influence of biotic and abiotic factors on biologically cohesive sediment transport and morphology. An idealised benthic biofilm model is incorporated in a 1D morphodynamic model of tide-dominated channels. This study investigates the effect of a range of environmental and biological conditions on biofilm growth and their feedback on the morphological evolution of the entire intertidal channel. By carrying out a sensitivity analysis of the biomorphodynamic model, parameters like (i) hydrodynamic disturbances, (ii) seasonality, (iii) biofilm growth rate, (iv) temperature variation and (v) bio-cohesivity of the sediment are systematically changed. Results reveal that key parameters such as growth rate and temperature strongly influence the development of biofilm and are key determinants of equilibrium biofilm configuration and development under a range of disturbance periodicities and intensities. Long-term simulations of intertidal channel development demonstrate that the hydrodynamic disturbances induced by tides play a key role in shaping the morphology of the bed and that the presence of surface biofilm increases the time to reach morphological equilibrium. In locations characterised by low hydrodynamic forces, the biofilm grows and stabilises the bed, inhibiting the transport of coarse sediment (medium and fine sand). These findings suggest biofilm presence in channel beds results in intertidal channels that have significantly different characteristics in terms of morphology and stratigraphy compared abiotic sediments. It is concluded that inclusion of bio-cohesion in morphodynamic models is essential to predict estuary development and mitigate coastal erosion.
Bastianon , E , Hope , J A , Dorrell , R & Parsons , D 2022 , ' Effect of hydro-climate variation on biofilm dynamics and its impact in intertidal environments ' , Earth Surface Dynamics (ESurf) , vol. 10 , no. 6 , pp. 1115-1140 . https://doi.org/10.5194/esurf-10-1115-2022
Earth Surface Dynamics (ESurf)
Copyright © Author(s) 2022. This work is distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.
DescriptionFunding: This research has been supported by the European Research Council under the European Union's Horizon 2020 research and innovation program (grant no. 725955).
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