Wetzel, Richard School of Marine Science, College of William and Mary, Virginia Institute of Marine Science, Gloucester Point, Virginia.
Last reviewed:March 2020
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- Marine environments
- Estuarine ecosystems
- Coastal and nearshore ecosystems
- Open-ocean/deep-sea environments
- Marine ecological processes
- Photosynthesis and autotrophic production
- Food webs and heterotrophic production
- Related Primary Literature
- Additional Reading
An integrative science that studies the basic structural and functional relationships within and among living populations and their physical–chemical environments in marine ecosystems. Although an outgrowth of natural history and the life sciences, marine ecology (Fig. 1) draws on all the major disciplines within the biological sciences, as well as oceanography, physics, geology, and chemistry. Historically, emphasis within the field of marine ecology has been directed at the gathering and analysis of data and descriptive information about taxonomy, species distributions and abundances, natural history and population biology, and the physical–chemical characteristics of marine environments. However, emphasis has shifted somewhat and evolved toward understanding the rates and controls on ecological processes that govern both short- and long-term events, including population growth and survival, primary and secondary productivities, and community dynamics and stability. See also: Biological productivity; Ecological modeling; Ecology; Ecosystem; Environment; Marine conservation
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