Estuarine ecosystems are among the most complex and complicated systems in the biosphere. Because they are at the interface of terrestrial, freshwater, and marine systems, estuaries are subject to massive fluxes of materials and energy. Further, as a large percentage of the human population lives in close proximity to estuarine and coastal environments, anthropogenic impacts and stress are major driving factors in determining the health and functional status of estuarine ecosystems. In this section, the structure and function of estuarine ecosystems are examined.
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