The project HABIT researches the development and dispersion of HAB populations in sub-surface micro-layers. It focuses on a genus of phytoplankton that has a serious impact on the economic development of the European coastal zone and which frequently occurs in sub-surface, thin micro-layers. The overall objectives of HABIT are to resolve fundamental patterns in the occurrences of Dinophysis and quantify the processes that are important in governing their distribution. To this end, the project HABIT will i) investigate the maintenance and persistence of high density thin layers through studying interactions between fine scale physical diffusion and net growth and trophic relationships within them; ii) investigate the precise role of small scale structures on the coastal shelf as incubators for accumulations of Dinophysis; and iii) utilise physical models to examine the formation and persistence of gyres on the shelf, to predict their transport, and as a consequence HAB events at the coast. A high-resolution vertical profiler will be utilised in tandem with a moored profiling system currently in use in the US for studying HAB species occurrences. Thin layers of Dinophysis will be identified. Small-scale physical processes (vertical and horizontal diffusion) will be measured, and related to net growth. Results will allow an overview of the balance between dispersion and accumulation in the layers and the time-scale of their persistence. Retention zones and other small-scale structures on the coastal shelf will be investigated as incubators for thin layers of HABs using quality physical models to model and predict the formation, persistence and movement of these structures. In this way, potential incubator sites will be shown to depend on the hydrodynamic regime of the coastal ocean. The origins of HAB events will be identified and essential information given to managers, as the only mitigation action possible for naturally occurring events lies in their prediction.
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Funding SchemeIP - Integrated Project