In an attempt to place a more ecosystems oriented emphasis on estuaries, the 'geohydrologic continuum theory of Marsh-Estuarine ecosystem development' was proposed as a scheme for categorizing estuarine ecosystems. In this theory, the tidal channels of the estuarine ecosystem represent a physical or geohydrologic model of how the ecosystem adapts until there is a change of state. Mature portions of the system are at the ocean-estuary interface, mid-aged components are intermediate within the longitudinal distribution of the system, and young or immature areas are at the land-estuary interface. Mature systems export particulate and dissolved materials, mid-aged areas import particulate and export dissolved materials, and immature systems import both particulate and dissolved materials. Some estuarine ecosystems may have all three types while others may have only one or two.
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