Diatoms as Indicators of Environmental Change in Estuaries

  • Kathryn H. Taffs
  • Krystyna M. Saunders
  • Brendan Logan
Part of the Developments in Paleoenvironmental Research book series (DPER, volume 20)


Diatoms are valuable paleo-indicators of natural processes and environmental changes caused by human activities in estuaries. They have been used to study sea level change, climate variability, floods and tsunamis, problems associated with changes in salinity and nutrients due to human activities, and to assess ecosystem responses to remediation, among others. There are many challenges such as issues of sediment disturbance and frustule preservation, as well as limitations on the development of transfer functions due to a lack of analogue sites. However, the application of diatoms to paleo-studies in a range of coastal habitats has enabled reliable and informative qualitative and quantitative reconstructions of environmental change. This chapter provides an overview of diatom estuarine ecology, different applications of diatoms to estuarine paleoecological research, their potential yet often informative limitations, and challenges going forward.


Diatoms Estuary Paleoecology Natural processes Human impacts 



We would like to acknowledge the contribution of Dr. John Gibson for his vision and enthusiasm initiating this project, and his dedication and passion for the estuarine environment. We would like to acknowledge the input from the reviewers whose suggestions contributed to significantly improving the quality of this chapter.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  • Kathryn H. Taffs
    • 1
  • Krystyna M. Saunders
    • 2
    • 3
  • Brendan Logan
    • 1
  1. 1.School of Environment, Science and EngineeringSouthern Cross UniversityLismoreAustralia
  2. 2.Institute of Geography and Oeschger Centre for Climate Change ResearchUniversity of BernBernSwitzerland
  3. 3.Australian Nuclear Science and Technology OrganisationLucas HeightsAustralia

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