Interactions and linkages among ecosystems during landscape evolution

Alexander M. Milner, Christopher L. Fastie, F. Stuart Chapin, Daniel R. Engstrom, Lewis C. Sharman

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

75 Scopus citations


We synthesize our findings of studies in Glacier Bay National Park and Preserve, southeastern Alaska, to elucidate interactions and linkages among terrestrial, lake, stream, and marine intertidal ecosystems as the landscape evolves following ice recession. Development in each ecosystem is initially dominated by physical processes. Over time, biotic control becomes increasingly important, although the extent of biotic control varies among ecosystems. The changes occurring in the four ecosystems are linked by landscape processes, with the nature and strength of these linkages changing through time. Change in one ecosystem has a major influence on the nature and direction of change in other ecosystems. Soil development and woody biomass accumulation on land provide an inertia that is unmatched in stream, lake, or intertidal systems. It is important that researchers and managers understand this science of change, at different spatial and temporal scales, in order to predict future states of ecological systems. The dynamics of change that we document at Glacier Bay during primary succession have important implications for managing the system with respect to anthropogenic change.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)237-247
Number of pages11
Issue number3
StatePublished - Mar 1 2007
Externally publishedYes


  • Development
  • Ecosystems
  • Landscape
  • Linkages
  • Succession


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