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Ecotone formation induced by the effects of tidal flooding: A conceptual model of the mud flat-coastal wetland ecosystem

Bearup, Daniel, Blasius, Bernd (2017) Ecotone formation induced by the effects of tidal flooding: A conceptual model of the mud flat-coastal wetland ecosystem. Ecological Complexity, 32 (B). pp. 217-227. ISSN 1476-945X. (doi:10.1016/j.ecocom.2016.11.005) (KAR id:64315)


The boundary between mud flat and coastal wetland ecosystems is highly productive and a haven of considerable biodiversity. It is also embedded in a highly dynamic environment and can be easily destabilised by environmental changes, invasive species, and human activity. Thus, understanding the processes which govern the formation of this ecotone is important both for conservation and economic reasons. In this study we introduce a simple conceptual model for this joint ecosystem, which demonstrates that the interaction between tidal flooding and habitat elevation is able to produce an ecotone with similar characteristics to that observed in empirical studies. In particular, the transition from mud flat to vegetated state is locally abrupt, occurring at a critical threshold elevation, but, on broader spatial scales can occur over a range of elevations determined by the variability in high tide water levels. Additionally, the model shows the potential for regime shifts, resulting from periods of unusual weather or the invasion of a fast growing, or flood resistant, species.

Item Type: Article
DOI/Identification number: 10.1016/j.ecocom.2016.11.005
Uncontrolled keywords: Ecotone structure; Intertidal ecosystem; Ecosystem engineering; Competition; Stochastic perturbation
Subjects: Q Science > QA Mathematics (inc Computing science) > QA372 Ordinary differential equations
Q Science > QH Natural history > QH541 Ecology
Divisions: Divisions > Division of Computing, Engineering and Mathematical Sciences > School of Mathematics, Statistics and Actuarial Science
Depositing User: Daniel Bearup
Date Deposited: 30 Nov 2017 11:44 UTC
Last Modified: 04 Mar 2024 19:40 UTC
Resource URI: (The current URI for this page, for reference purposes)

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