Salinity is one of the dominant physical factors structuring terrestrial and aquatic ecosystems, with both overabundance and paucity creating physiological stress. Organisms have evolved a number of adaptations to deal with these stresses, which can affect successional patterns, competitive interactions, and species diversity and distribution. The salinity of any given environment is controlled by both physical and biological processes, and varies over spatial scales ranging from centimeters (e.g., vertical distribution in sediments) to thousands of kilometers (oceanic), and over temporal scales from minutes (e.g., ocean waves cresting a berm) to geologic (the evolution of saline conditions in the oceans).

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