Land-Sea Interactions

  • Shoreline with houses and riprap

    Riprap (loose stones along a shoreline) help protect shores from erosion, but they can damage vital habitat for life underwater. 

Coastal zones are biologically active interfaces between the land and sea, providing critical habitats to many ecologically and economically important species around the world. Today, 70 percent of the world’s population live near coasts. As a result, coastal zones are under constant threat from urban and industrial sources of pollution, sea level rise and shoreline hardening.

Many types of human activities can disrupt coastal ecosystem function, potentially leading to the extinction of ecological processes and interactions necessary to maintain ecosystem integrity. Scientists at SERC study the effects of land use on the delivery of pollutants to coastal waters, the aquatic consequences of those pollutants, the impacts of shoreline alternation on nearshore habitats that support fisheries, and the responses of tidal wetlands to global warming and sea level rise.