Depletion, Degradation, and Recovery Potential of Estuaries and Coastal Seas

Biology Department, Dalhousie University, 1355 Oxford Street, Halifax, NS, Canada B3H 4J1.
Science (Impact Factor: 33.61). 07/2006; 312(5781):1806-9. DOI: 10.1126/science.1128035
Source: PubMed


Estuarine and coastal transformation is as old as civilization yet has dramatically accelerated over the past 150 to 300 years.
Reconstructed time lines, causes, and consequences of change in 12 once diverse and productive estuaries and coastal seas
worldwide show similar patterns: Human impacts have depleted >90% of formerly important species, destroyed >65% of seagrass
and wetland habitat, degraded water quality, and accelerated species invasions. Twentieth-century conservation efforts achieved
partial recovery of upper trophic levels but have so far failed to restore former ecosystem structure and function. Our results
provide detailed historical baselines and quantitative targets for ecosystem-based management and marine conservation.

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