Physical Ecosystem Engineers and the Functioning of Estuaries and Coasts

J. L. Gutiérrez*, C. G. Jones, J. E. Byers, K. K. Arkema, K. Berkenbusch, A. Commito, Carlos Duarte, S. D. Hacker, J. G. Lambrinos, I. E. Hendriks, P. J. Hogarth, M. G. Palomo, C. Wild

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapterpeer-review

93 Scopus citations


A great diversity of organisms modify the physical structure of estuarine and coastal environments. These physical ecosystem engineers - particularly, dune and marsh plants, mangroves, seagrasses, kelps, reef-forming corals and bivalves, burrowing crustaceans, and infauna - often have substantive functional impacts over large areas and across distinct geographic regions. Here, we use a general framework for physical ecosystem engineering to illustrate how these organisms can exert control on sedimentary processes, coastal protection, and habitat availability to other organisms. We then discuss the management implications of coastal and estuarine engineering, concluding with a brief prospectus on research and management challenges.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Title of host publicationFunctioning of Ecosystems at the Land-Ocean Interface
PublisherElsevier Inc.
Number of pages29
ISBN (Electronic)9780080878850
ISBN (Print)9780123747112
StatePublished - Mar 6 2012

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Earth and Planetary Sciences(all)


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