Hypersalinity: Global Distribution, Causes, and Present and Future Effects on the Biota of Estuaries and Lagoons

James Tweedley, Sabine Dittmann, Alan Whitfield, Kim Withers, Steeg Hoeksema, Ian Potter

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapterpeer-review

32 Citations (Scopus)


Estuaries, lagoons, and marine embayments that become hypersaline (salinity>40) are found around the world, but are most common in tropical, arid, and warm temperate climates with low and/or highly seasonal rainfall. The area of these systems range markedly from <0.1 to >10,000km2, but are generally shallow (<2m deep) and located in microtidal regions (tidal range <2m). Hypersalinity is typically caused by a reduced or closed connection with the ocean, high evaporation, and/or low freshwater input. The characteristics of the biota present in hypersaline systems change markedly in response to increased salinity, with few species able to tolerate salinities >100, which can result in mass mortalities of flora and fauna and a simplification of the biotic community and food web. Climate change over the coming decades will potentially influence the extent of hypersalinity in estuaries and lagoons, by altering the frequency and magnitude of rainfall and the sea-level height. Changes in rainfall and sea level will also influence the extent of connectivity with the ocean.

Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationCoasts and Estuaries
Subtitle of host publicationThe Future
EditorsEric Wolanski, John W. Day, Michael Elliott, Ramesh Ramachandran
Place of PublicationAmsterdam
Number of pages24
ISBN (Electronic)9780128140048
ISBN (Print)9780128140031
Publication statusPublished - 2019


  • Anthropogenic
  • Benthic macroinvertebrates
  • Climate change
  • Drought
  • Embayment
  • Fish
  • Hyperhaline
  • Rainfall
  • Salt lake
  • Seagrass


Dive into the research topics of 'Hypersalinity: Global Distribution, Causes, and Present and Future Effects on the Biota of Estuaries and Lagoons'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this