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Paradigms in estuarine ecology - a review of the Remane diagram with a suggested revised model for estuaries

Whitfield, A.K.; Elliott, M.; Basset, A.; Blaber, S. J.M.; Blaber, S.J.M.; West, R.J.


A.K. Whitfield

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Professor Mike Elliott
Professor of Estuarine and Coastal Sciences/ Research Professor, Institute of Estuarine and Coastal Studies

A. Basset

S. J.M. Blaber

S.J.M. Blaber

R.J. West


Most estuarine ecology textbooks have included the so-called Remane diagram which is derived from German studies in the Baltic Sea region during the early part of the 20th Century. The model shows how aquatic species diversity changes from freshwater to more marine areas. In essence it aims to show the relative proportions of each component of the fauna (freshwater, brackish and marine) and how these change along a salinity gradient. These combined components decrease in diversity with a progression from both the freshwater and marine ends of the spectrum, with the 5-7 salinity area being dominated by a small number of true brackish/estuarine species. The way in which the Remane diagram has been interpreted (and misinterpreted) and used (and misused) in the literature is discussed here. We primarily investigate whether the model needs to be modified to help provide an understanding of current biotic distribution patterns within estuaries and how these patterns might be influenced by climate change. Using global estuarine examples for a variety of taxa we discuss the appropriateness of the Remane model beyond the zoobenthos (on which the model was originally based) and provide a revised model that is more suited to estuaries worldwide. Comment is also provided on the way in which a more appropriate estuarine biodiversity model can influence future estuarine ecotone and ecocline studies.


Whitfield, A., Elliott, M., Basset, A., Blaber, S., & West, R. (2012). Paradigms in estuarine ecology - a review of the Remane diagram with a suggested revised model for estuaries. Estuarine, coastal and shelf science, 97, 78-90.

Journal Article Type Article
Acceptance Date Jan 20, 2012
Online Publication Date Nov 23, 2011
Publication Date 2012-01
Print ISSN 0272-7714
Publisher Elsevier
Peer Reviewed Peer Reviewed
Volume 97
Pages 78-90
Keywords estuary; euryhaline; stenohaline; holohaline; ecotones; ecoclines
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