Résumé: Community respiration and primary production were measured in a dense intertidal Zostera noltii bed on the Banc d'Arguin, Mauritania (West Africa) under aerial and submerged conditions. Metabolism was studied in situ in dark and transparent benthic chambers. CO(2) fluxes in the air were measured over a series of short-term incubations (3 min) using an infrared gas analyzer. Dissolved inorganic carbon fluxes were calculated from concentration changes during one-hour underwater incubations. Air and underwater irradiance levels were measured every minute throughout the experiments. Carbon respiration was lower in the air (2.2 mmol m(-2) h(-1)) than underwater (5.0 mmol m(-2) h(-1)); similarly, a production-irradiance model fitted to the data indicated that gross maximal photosynthetic rate was markedly lower during emergence (6.0 mmol C m(-2) h(-1)) than under water (42.7 mmol C m(-2) h(-1)). The delta(13)C values observed in shoots indicated a decrease in atmospheric CO(2) contribution, compared to dissolved inorganic carbon, in Z. noltii metabolism along a depth gradient within a single location. As the seagrass bed remains under a thin layer of water at low tide at the studied site, the large difference in primary production can be mainly attributed to photosynthesis inhibition by high pH and oxygen concentration, as well as to the negative feedback of self-shading by seagrass leaves during emersion. The observed differences in respiration can be explained by the oxygen deficit at night during low tide near the sediment surface, a deficit that is consistent with the abundance of anoxia-tolerant species. (C) 2011 Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.