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A geohydrologic continuum theory for the spatial and temporal evolution of marsh-estuarine ecosystems
Dame, R.; Childers, D.; Koepfler, E. (1992). A geohydrologic continuum theory for the spatial and temporal evolution of marsh-estuarine ecosystems. Neth. J. Sea Res. 30: 63-72.
In: Netherlands Journal of Sea Research. Netherlands Institute for Sea Research (NIOZ): Groningen; Den Burg. ISSN 0077-7579; e-ISSN 1873-1406, more
Also appears in:
Heip, C.H.R.; Nienhuis, P.H.; Pollen-Lindeboom, P.R. (Ed.) (1992). Proceedings of the 26th European Marine Biology Symposium: Biological Effects of Disturbances on Estuarine and Coastal Marine Environments, 17-21 September 1991, Yerseke, The Netherlands. Netherlands Journal of Sea Research, 30. Netherlands Institute for Sea Research: Texel. 299 pp., more
Peer reviewed article  

Available in  Authors 


Authors  Top 
  • Dame, R.
  • Childers, D.
  • Koepfler, E.

    Using ecosystem development theory and the River Continuum Concept as starting points, we present a new holistic theory to explain the spatial and temporal behaviour of marsh-estuarine ecosystems along the marine-estuarine-freshwater gradient in response to sea-level rise. In this theory, a geohydrologic continuum represented by tidal channels provides a predictable physical model of how the marsh-estuarine ecosystem adapts until there is a change of state. North Inlet, South Carolina is used as an example of this marsh-estuarine continuum. Mature creeks are at the ocean-estuary interface and are strongly influenced by marine factors. Further into the estuary, less and less mature creeks are encountered which are dominated by smaller scale spatial and temporal controls such as oyster reefs. Immature or ephemeral creeks import both particulate and dissolved materials, while mature creeks export both forms of nutrients. Mid-aged creeks appear to take up particulate materials and release dissolved constituents. Ultimately, the continuum reaches the freshwater-saltwater interface where a very young estuarine ecosystem invades a more mature type, under the influence of disturbance. Our new explanation satisfies most criteria for a good theory by being internally consistent to the location specified, generating testable hypotheses, not blindly adapting existing theories, agreeing with known properties of the ecosystem described and by generating new and invigorating discussions within the scientific community.

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