Physical Ecosystem Engineers and the Functioning of Estuaries and Coasts

Document Type

Book Chapter

Publication Date


Department 1

Environmental Studies


John Commito was a co-author with marine scientists from universities in South America, Europe, and New Zealand who developed a theoretical framework for the so-called “ecosystem services” supplied by plants and animals that alter the physical environment in the coastal zone. Mussel beds, coral reefs, mangrove forests, salt marshes, and other ecosystem engineers provide valuable services such as coastal defense from storms and sea level rise that would be too costly for humans to design and build.

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