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Communities of microphytobenthos in an eroded mudflat located in the Inner Gulf of Thailand were studied. This mudflat has been exposed to long-term coastal erosion for more than 30 years. A 250 m concrete breakwater system was built in 2006 to mitigate this problem. In 2015, the community structure of microphytobenthos as well as physico-chemical parameters were compared between inside or behind a breakwater (protected) and outside (unprotected) sites of this mudflat during the inter-monsoon (March) and northeast monsoon (December) periods. There were significant seasonal differences in temperature, salinity and pH in both seawater and interstitial water; values in March were lower than in December while dissolved inorganic nutrients in the water column showed the highest values in March. The sediment type was clay and clay loam at both sites of the mudflat with a higher percentage of organic matter in December than in March. However, these sediment-related parameters did not exhibit spatial differences due to the presence of the breakwater. Sediment chlorophyll a varied in the range of 30-80 mg/m2 with higher values in the unprotected mudflat in March. The temporal variations in the abundance of microphytobenthos and their predatory meiofauna were observed to be more abundant in December. Several spatial variations were observed in communities of microphytobenthos. For instance, cyanobacterial abundance in the unprotected mudflat was significantly higher than that of the protected one. The diatom Thalassiosira sp. was the dominant microphytobenthos in the protected mudflat while Skeletonema sp. and a cyanobacterium, Oscillatoria sp., was more abundant in the unprotected mudflat particularly in December. Meiofauna communities were dominated by nematodes (> 50% of total density). In March, microphytobenthos density was related to that of meiofauna abundance while abiotic factors played an important role in relation to microphytobenthos density in December. In conclusion, the environment as well as community of microphytobenthos showed strongly seasonal variations while the presence of the breakwater system played a role in modifying both physico-chemical as well as biological characteristics of this mudflat ecosystem.
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