Phytoplankton are key elements of marine ecosystems supporting all higher trophic levels. However, a few species are directly responsible for major economic losses, due to their impact on the exploitation of marine resources, and human health problems. This has serious social-economic implications and there is an urgent need for new science driven technological approaches that help minimize or mitigate these events.

The ultimate objective of HabWAVE is the development of new forecasting capabilities to allow for timely management decisions that may reduce the impact of HABs on the emerging aquaculture industry in Portugal. To achieve this goal, we have put together a multidisciplinary consortium to investigate the conditions leading to bloom initiation, in species, such as the dinoflagellate Gymnodinium catenatum, that produce in their life-cycle a benthic resting cyst.

The hypothesis to be tested is that bloom inoculum may originate from a benthic cyst bed, after resuspension and transport to the euphotic layer by physical processes.

The project will (1) identify physical processes responsible for bottom particulate matter dynamics, through in situ observations and satellite data (SAR, SST and ocean colour), (2) investigate the presence of cyst beds in bottom sediments and in the adjacent benthic nephloid layer (BNL), (3) study the physiological traits of G. catenatum cysts and other potentially toxic species, (4) develop a state-of-the-art hydrodynamic model to assess transport mechanisms of resting cysts and (5) produce a conceptual model that will contribute to the operationalization of a predictive system for HABs, based on a combination of satellite observations, and modelling information.