Modeling the influence of a young mussel bed on fine sediment dynamics on an intertidal flat in the Wadden Sea

B. van Leeuwen*, D.C.M. Augustijn, B. K. van Wesenbeeck, S. J.M.H. Hulscher, M. B. de Vries

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleScientificpeer-review

49 Citations (Scopus)


Mussel beds are known to affect fine sediment dynamics and morphology on mudflat scale, a clear example of ecosystem engineering. Current research into possible ecological engineering applications of mussel beds makes quantitative modeling desirable. In this study a process-based model of the interaction between a young mussel bed and fine sediment was set up for use in the hydrodynamic and morphological model Delft3D-FLOW. The model encompasses the hydraulic roughness of the mussel bed, active capture of suspended sediment by filter feeding and changed bed properties due to biodeposited matter. The mussel bed implementation in Delft3D-FLOW was applied in a test case: a Wadden Sea intertidal mudflat model. It was concluded that a combination of active deposition via filtration and slow down of the flow due to increased roughness leads to high net deposition in the mussel bed. In addition, the ability of young mussels to quickly climb on top of deposited material results in rapid trapping of large amounts of fine sediment. In the wake of the mussel bed, deposition is also high because of reduced flow velocities. The effects of different existing mussel bed patterns were also evaluated. Patchiness and specifically striped patterns cause mussel beds to experience less sedimentation than uniformly covered beds of the same size and may therefore be favorable to mussels.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)145-153
Number of pages9
JournalEcological Engineering
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - Feb 2010
Externally publishedYes


  • Mussel bed, Mussel, Wadden Sea, Intertidal, Fine sediment, Biogeomorphology, Modeling


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