Murdoch University Research Repository

Welcome to the Murdoch University Research Repository

The Murdoch University Research Repository is an open access digital collection of research
created by Murdoch University staff, researchers and postgraduate students.

Learn more

The Contrasting Ecology of Temperate Macrotidal and Microtidal Estuaries

Tweedley, J.R.ORCID: 0000-0002-2749-1060, Warwick, R.M. and Potter, I.C. (2016) The Contrasting Ecology of Temperate Macrotidal and Microtidal Estuaries. In: Hughes, R.N., Hughes, D.J., Smith, I.P. and Dale, A.C., (eds.) Oceanography and Marine Biology: An Annual Review. CRC Press, pp. 73-171.

PDF - Authors' Version
Download (5MB) | Preview


Tidal range is a master factor governing the differences in physico-chemical and biological characteristics between microtidal (<2 m) and macrotidal (>2 m) estuaries, which, for convenience, thus include mesotidal estuaries (2–4 m). Microtidal estuaries differ from macrotidal estuaries in geomorphology, tidal water movements, salinity regimes, residence times, turbidity, sedimentology and intertidal area. Consequently, their phytoplankton, microphytobenthos and macrophytes communities differ in biomass and production, areal extent, distribution patterns and composition. Mesozooplankton comprise predominantly autochthonous species in microtidal estuaries and allochthonous species in macrotidal estuaries. Meiobenthos in microtidal estuaries have greater densities in subtidal than intertidal areas and species persist along the estuary. Macrobenthos is dominated by small deposit-feeding species in microtidal estuaries, whereas macrotidal estuaries contain some larger species and suspension feeders. Species richness and abundance of estuarine-resident fish species and the contributions of diving piscivorous birds and wading invertebrate-feeding birds are greater in microtidal estuaries. As paradigms regarding estuarine ecology have been based mainly on northern hemisphere macrotidal systems, this review has redressed this imbalance by detailing the extent of differences between microtidal and macrotidal estuaries. In particular, it uses data and case studies for southern hemisphere microtidal systems to demonstrate that the physico-chemical characteristics and ecology of the main flora and fauna of microtidal estuaries are frequently not consistent with those paradigms.

Item Type: Book Chapter
Murdoch Affiliation(s): Centre for Fish and Fisheries Research
School of Veterinary and Life Sciences
Publisher: CRC Press
Copyright: © R.N. Hughes. D.J. Hughes, I.P. Smith, and A.C. Dale, Editors
Publisher's Website:
Item Control Page Item Control Page


Downloads per month over past year