A modeling study of benthic detritus flux's impacts on heterotrophic processes in Lake Michigan

Changsheng Chen, Lixia Wang, Jianhua Qi, Hedong Liu, Judith Wells Budd, David J. Schwab, Dmitry Beletsky, Henry Vanderploeg, Brian Eadie, Thomas Johengen, James Cotner, Peter J. Lavrentyev

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Effects of sediment resuspension-induced benthic detrital flux on the heterotrophic part of the microbial food web in Lake Michigan were examined using a three-dimensional (3-D) coupled biological and physical model. The model was driven by the realistic meteorological forcing observed in March 1999. Wind-induced surface wave dynamics were incorporated into the physical model to generate the bottom flux. The model-generated benthic detrital fiux was assumed to be proportional to the difference between model-calculated and critical stresses at the bottom. The model results indicate that detrital flux at the bottom was a key factor causing a significant increase of phosphorus and detritus concentrations in the nearshore region of the springtime plume. Inside the plume the sediment-resuspended bottom detritus flux could directly enhance heterotrophic production, while outside the plume, detrital flux from river discharge might have a direct contribution to the high abundance of bacteria and microzooplankton in the nearshore region. Mo&l-data comparison on cross-shore transects near Chicago, Gary, St. Joseph, and Racine suggests that other physical and biological processes may play a comparative role as the bottom detritus flux in terms of the spatial distribution of bacteria and microzoplankton. A more complete microbial food web model needs to be developed to simulate the hetereotrophic process in southern Lake Michigan.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)C10S11 1-13
JournalJournal of Geophysical Research: Oceans
Issue number10
StatePublished - Oct 15 2004


  • Coupled biological and physical model
  • Microbial food web
  • Pelagic coupling


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