Seascape ecology of coastal biogenic habitats: advances, gaps, and challenges

Bostrom, Christoffer and Pittman, Simon J. and Simenstad, Charles and Kneib, Ronald T. (2011) Seascape ecology of coastal biogenic habitats: advances, gaps, and challenges. Marine Ecology Progress Series, 427, pp. 191-217. 10.3354/meps09051

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We review the progress made in the emerging field of coastal seascape ecology, i.e. the application of landscape ecology concepts and techniques to the coastal marine environment. Since the early 1990s, the landscape ecology approach has been applied in several coastal subtidal and intertidal biogenic habitats across a range of spatial scales. Emerging evidence indicates that animals in these seascapes respond to the structure of patches and patch mosaics in different ways and at different spatial scales, yet we still know very little about the ecological significance of these relationships and the consequences of change in seascape patterning for ecosystem functioning and overall biodiversity. Ecological interactions that occur within patches and among different types of patches (or seascapes) are likely to be critically important in maintaining primary and secondary production, trophic transfer, biodiversity, coastal protection, and supporting a wealth of ecosystem goods and services. We review faunal responses to patch and seascape structure, including effects of fragmentation on 5 focal habitats: seagrass meadows, salt marshes, coral reefs, mangrove forests, and oyster reefs. Extrapolating and generalizing spatial relationships between ecological patterns and processes across scales remains a significant challenge, and we show that there are major gaps in our understanding of these relationships. Filling these gaps will be crucial for managing and responding to an inevitably changing coastal environment. We show that critical ecological thresholds exist in the structural patterning of biogenic ecosystems that, when exceeded, cause abrupt shifts in the distribution and abundance of organisms. A better understanding of faunal–seascape relationships, including the identifications of threshold effects, is urgently needed to support the development of more effective and holistic management actions in restoration, site prioritization, and forecasting the impacts of environmental change.

Item Type: Article
Title: Seascape ecology of coastal biogenic habitats: advances, gaps, and challenges
Personal Creator/Author:
Pittman, Simon J.
Simenstad, Charles
Kneib, Ronald T.
Refereed: Yes
Journal or Publication Title: Marine Ecology Progress Series
Volume: 427
Page Range: pp. 191-217
Date: 12 April 2011
Contact Email Address:
Issuing Agency: United States National Ocean Service
Additional Information: Included in theme section, "Seascape ecology: application of landscape ecology to the marine environment"
Subjects: Ecology
Item ID: 14783
Depositing User: Patti M. Marraro
Date Deposited: 28 Feb 2014 21:08
Last Modified: 28 Feb 2014 21:08

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