Add some water to a terrestrial ecosystem and you can expect a boost in productivity. It is, after all, essential for life; most land-based creatures live their lives with only a small tolerance for desiccation. Now add more water, so that the ecosystem is periodically or permanently flooded. This is too much water for many organisms, and it will quickly bring them to the end of their capacity to live without oxygen. It may also restrict growth and development by accentuating the constraints of light attenuation, gas exchange, and nutrient assimilation. Now add salt, and you’ve complicated things with another level of stress. It’s not that the marine and estuarine stress regimes preclude life, of course. On the contrary, some salt water ecosystems are disproportionately rich in biological diversity. It’s just that salinity changes the rules of survival – and life in this environment requires first and foremost an adaptation to abiotic stress.
KeywordsCoral Reef Salt Marsh Storm Surge Regime Shift Stress Regime
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