Coastal Sediments: Transition from Land to Sea

  • Lucas J. StalEmail author


Coastal habitats differ greatly from the open sea and the ocean. The coast is a transition zone from the land to the sea and is therefore influenced by both. Coastal habitats are also very productive environments and therefore vulnerable to disturbances. The coast protects the land behind from flooding and it often keeps pace with sea-level changes. The coasts of most seas and the ocean are exposed to the tides and waves, and locally to ice cover and drifting ice. The tidal influence in some enclosed seas is less or even negligible. On the other hand, tidal influence may reach more than 100 km upstream of estuaries and rivers. The ecosystems of coastal habitats are complex and as everywhere microorganisms play a crucial role in maintaining ecosystem functions and keep the biogeochemical cycles going. There is a great variety of different coastal habitats. They may be intertidal or sublittoral. It is impossible to review all those different coastal habitats and therefore this chapter treats only three different intertidal coastal microbial ecosystems as representative cases for the microbiology of coastal sediments. Intertidal mudflats are dominated by diatoms, which are important primary producers and exude extracellular polymeric substances (EPS). These exopolymers may increase the erosion threshold of the mud and also forms the basis of the microbial food web. The second case is microbial mats that are formed by benthic cyanobacteria on sandy beaches. They are thought to be the modern representatives of the world’s earliest ecosystem, the Precambrian stromatolites. The third case is mangrove forests that are important ecosystems in tropical and subtropical regions. The mangrove trees and shrubs form the basis of productive ecosystems that provide food for a plethora of local fauna, and protect the land behind. Mangrove ecosystems export a considerable amount of carbon to the ocean. The activity of diverse microbial communities is responsible for maintaining the major ecosystem functions and the cycling of the major element.


Extracellular Polymeric Substance Anaerobic Ammonium Oxidation Mangrove Forest Benthic Diatom Mangrove Ecosystem 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.



The research leading to these results has received funding from the European Union Seventh Framework Programme (FP7/2007–2013) under grant agreement no 311975. This publication reflects the views only of the author, and the European Union cannot be held responsible for any use which may be made of the information contained therein.


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© Springer International Publishing Switzerland 2016

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Marine Microbiology and BiogeochemistryNIOZ Royal Netherlands Institute for Sea Research and Utrecht UniversityUtrechtThe Netherlands
  2. 2.Department of Aquatic MicrobiologyUniversity of AmsterdamAmsterdamThe Netherlands

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