Current Landscape Ecology Reports

, Volume 4, Issue 3, pp 83–90 | Cite as

Landscape Ecology in the Rocky Intertidal: Opportunities for Advancing Discovery and Innovation in Intertidal Research

  • Corey GarzaEmail author
Landscape Ecology of Aquatic Systems (K Hovel, SECTION EDITOR)
Part of the following topical collections:
  1. Topical Collection on Landscape Ecology of Aquatic Systems


Purpose of Review

In this paper, I review the development of landscape-based studies in rocky intertidal communities. The rocky intertidal has served as the site of a number of influential studies in ecology that have helped demonstrate the importance of biological and physical structuring processes in nature. Owing to its ease of access and preponderance of sessile species, the intertidal has also played an important role in studies that monitor the health of coastal systems. Traditional data gathering approaches such as meter tapes and quadrats provide limited capacity to capture data at the spatial and temporal scales across which intertidal systems are currently changing. New approaches and methods are now needed to more efficiently record data across the organizational scales within which ecological processes structure the intertidal.

Recent Findings

Recent developments in landscape-based theory have expanded the types of research questions asked by intertidal ecologists. The subsequent incorporation of geospatial technologies into field studies that test the predictions of emerging landscape theory has revealed emergent patterns in intertidal communities and previously unrecognized relationships between species and habitat across multiple scales of ecological organization.


New landscape-based approaches will improve our capacity to collect and analyze data and improve quantitative inferences on how habitat complexity affects patterns of species abundance in the intertidal. The continued integration of landscape ecology into rocky intertidal research can help advance discovery science and provide a platform for bridging basic discovery science with conservation and management efforts centered about this important marine habitat.


Rocky intertidal Landscape ecology Drones Remote sensing GIS Spatial analysis 



The author would like to thank R. Desharnais and C. Robles for providing the cellular automaton image used in Fig. 1.

Compliance with Ethical Standards

Conflict of Interest

Dr. Garza has no conflicts of interests to declare.

Human and Animal Rights and Informed Consent

This article contains no studies with human or animal subjects performed by the author.


This publication was made possible by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, Office of Education Educational Partnership Program award (NA16SEC4810009). Its contents are solely the responsibility of the award recipient and do not necessarily represent the official views of the US Department of Commerce, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. Any opinions, findings, conclusions, or recommendations expressed in this publication are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the view of the US Department of Commerce, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.


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Copyright information

© Springer Nature Switzerland AG 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.School of Natural SciencesCalifornia State University, Monterey BaySeasideUSA

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