Australian sandy-beach ecosystems and climate change: ecology and management

Royal Zoological Society of NSW
Publication Type:
Journal Article
Australian Zoologist, 2007, 34 (2), pp. 190 - 201
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Despite their great socio-economic importance, sandy beaches have attracted little ecological research. This is unfortunate since, contrary to popular belief, they support diverse ecological assemblages whose species are mostly small and buried and which deserve protection as part of ecologically sustainable development (ESD). Moreover, the management of beaches and linked adjacent ecosystems is becoming increasingly important because of their vulnerability to burgeoning human pressures including climate change. Although there are large uncertainties involved, some of the climate-related environmental changes and their ecological consequences for sandy beaches are explored in this paper, some management issues discussed and research proposed.Temperature-related changes include the likelihood that the geographical ranges of some species will change, some cool-adapted species will decline in abundance, possibly to extinction, and the rate of processes such as decomposition and photosynthesis will increase. The increasing acidification of the ocean may affect many beach species directly via reduced calcification and indirectly via changes to the phytoplankton on which some beach species depend for food.
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