Succession. Shifts in salinity in systems over longer time-scales may in part be driven by succession and also play a part in succession. For example, in disturbed or newly created salt marshes, the first colonizers, consisting only of salt-tolerant species, may shade (e.g., annual succulents)
or rework (e.g., rove beetles, burrowing crabs) the substrate surface, reducing evaporation and moderating salinity. Subsequent species may need to be less salt tolerant. As cover of the substrate increases, salinity is further reduced and buffered from dramatic fluctuations.
Decadal and longer. Longer-term fluctuations in the environment and climate may lead to alteration of salinity patterns. For example, the El Niño/Southern Oscillation (ENSO) events can alter patterns of precipitation and current flow, with cascading effects on salinity patterns worldwide. Over geologic timescales, alterations in aquatic salinity patterns have been profound, coupled with changes in oceanic circulation, glaciation and deglaciation, etc., with all of the potential ecological consequences of altered salinity on a global scale.
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