Conclusions

Estuarine and coastal habitats are increasingly degraded worldwide. Ecohydrology demonstrates unambiguously that the land, the river, the estuary, and coastal waters are components of the same ecosystem. They are connected through a number of physical and biological processes that determine environmental health. Traditionally, the estuarine management strategy relies on technology and engineering fixes and it neglects ecohydrology principles; these strategies invariably fail to maintain ecosystem health and the ecological services that these ecosystems provide. Coastal coral reef management strategies worldwide also neglect ecohydrology science and also invariably fail. Ecohydrology science offers a number of solutions, including top-down and bottom-up ecological manipulation as well as the use of created or restored wetlands to help restore the health of estuarine and coastal waters. Combined with some technological fixes, such as the creation of freshets and smarter land-use, ecohy-drology science offers an ecologically sustainable management strategy for estuaries and coral refs. Worldwide the implementation of this science-based strategy will most likely stall, and estuaries and coastal waters will continue to degrade, until a political solution is found to the quagmire (i.e., the present estuarine and coastal management framework) which basically ignores ecosystem ecology.

Estuarine and coastal areas suffer an increasing pressure from anthropogenic activities. Modifications of physical and chemical parameters affect biodiversity and hamper the traditional uses and services by local populations. Estuarine and coastal management relied, traditionally, on technology and engineering fixes, neglecting the ecological equilibrium of the systems. Alternatively, ecohydrology science, based on the interplay between hydrology and ecology, offers a number of sustainable and long-lasting solutions to increase the robustness and to restore the health of estuarine and coastal waters. Estuarine ecohydrology models aiming to facilitate the interaction between scientists, economists, the public, and decision-makers have been developed and verified for a few ecosystems, recently for the Guadiana

Death

Figure 7 (a) Sketch of the dominant biological processes in the coral reef ecohydrology model where SSC indicates the suspended sediment concentration that is a measure of turbidity. (b) Underwater photographs of a healthy coral reef (left), a coral reef overgrown by algae - this is a stable ecological state as long as poor water quality prevails (middle), a coral reef smothered and killed by mud from eroded soil from the adjoining river catchment (right).

Figure 7 (a) Sketch of the dominant biological processes in the coral reef ecohydrology model where SSC indicates the suspended sediment concentration that is a measure of turbidity. (b) Underwater photographs of a healthy coral reef (left), a coral reef overgrown by algae - this is a stable ecological state as long as poor water quality prevails (middle), a coral reef smothered and killed by mud from eroded soil from the adjoining river catchment (right).

Estuary in Portugal and Darwin Harbor and the Great Barrier Reef in Australia, under a scientific program supported by UNESCO-ROSTE, NOAA, AIMS, and the University of Algarve/CCMAR.

See also: Coastal and Estuarine Environments; Estuary

Restoration; Fishes as Indicators of Estuarine Health and

Estuarine Importance.

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