North Atlantic coastal lagoons: conservation, management and research challenges in the 21st century

Nicola A. Beer, Christopher Joyce

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Coastal lagoons provide socio-economically valuable ecosystem services and are important habitats for conservation. Rare around North Atlantic coastlines, they are increasingly threatened by climatic and anthropogenic stressors. Despite repeated calls at the end of the twentieth century for further research to be urgently undertaken to underpin management of these habitats and the rare, specialist species they support, progress on North Atlantic lagoons has apparently lagged behind other European lagoon types. In the context of increasing pressure on coastal resources, we summarise current ecological knowledge and consider contemporary issues, concepts and techniques to identify the conservation, management and research challenges that need to be addressed if North Atlantic lagoons are to be safeguarded and sustainably managed in the twenty-first century. Priority issues relate to the lack of scientific understanding of lagoon functioning and variability, and include the need for reliable identification and classification of the resource, assessing responses to anthropogenic impacts (notably climate change) and applying ecosystem-specific management and monitoring. Key recommendations are (i) specialised surveys that recognise the inherent dynamism of the environment and facilitate a more accurate description of the lagoonal resource and its ecology, and (ii) an ecocomplex approach for conservation and management that addresses coastal habitat connectivity.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1-11
Number of pages11
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 2013


  • Coastal lagoon
  • Sea level rise
  • Climate change
  • Transitional waters
  • Ecocomplex
  • Ecosystem-based management


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