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Cambridge Books Online

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Aquatic Ecosystems
Trends and Global Prospects
Edited by Nicholas V. C. Polunin
Book DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1017/CBO9780511751790
Online ISBN: 9780511751790
Hardback ISBN: 9780521833271
Chapter
PART VI - SOFT SHORES pp. 261-262
Chapter DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1017/CBO9780511751790.023
Cambridge University Press
Part VI
Soft shores
261
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1017/CBO9780511751790.023
Cambridge Books Online Cambridge University Press, 2011
The soft shore ecosystems span all of the Earths climatic
zones, and have for many centuries been a source of food
and livelihood services for humans. Each has unique eco-
logical features, whilst the stresses acting on them are often
similar.
Sandy shores are dynamic harsh environments, the
action of waves and tides largely determining species
diversity, biomass and community structure (Chapter 17).
There is an interchange of sand, biological matter and
other materials between dunes, intertidal beaches and surf
zones. This transport is critical to the maintenance of the
sand budget and consequently to the landforms and habitat
on which sandy-shore organisms depend. Storms and
associated erosion present the most substantial universal
hazard to the fauna. Human activities interfere with these
sediment exchanges and directly alter, restrict or replace
landforms and biota. The attention of Chapter 17 is
focused on subaerial beaches on wave-dominated open
coasts, coastal dunes, low-energy beaches and human-
restored environments. Covering <0.2% of the global
ocean, and occurring in a range of salinities around all
continental masses except Antarctica, seagrasses comprise
about 60 angiosperm species in 12 genera that complete
their life cycle in the marine environment (Chapter 18).
Seagrasses are highly productive plants that assimilate
and cycle nutrients and other chemicals; their extensive
biomass traps sediments, reducing coastal turbidity and
erosion, and provides habitat for a rich faunal assemblage.
The soft-bottom continental shelf that underlies
approximately 7% of the global marine surface supports
very substantial sheries production, exerts important
controls on marine productivity and contains rich and
varied marine communities (Chapter 19). These benthic
ecosystems are important in the economies of many
coastal states through the provision of food, non-living
resources (e.g. aggregates) and environmental services,
benets that are subject to changes in climate, oceanog-
raphy, hydrology (e.g. river discharge), land use, waste
disposal, shing, aquaculture and extraction of non-living
resources.
262 PART VI
Downloaded from Cambridge Books Online by IP 117.211.87.42 on Mon Nov 28 07:47:47 GMT 2011.
http://dx.doi.org/10.1017/CBO9780511751790.023
Cambridge Books Online Cambridge University Press, 2011