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Environmental Factors

Every animal and algae on the shore is affected by a range of environmental and biological factors. Every organism has the capacity to cope with a particular range within those factors. If a situation occurs that overly stresses an organism, it may cope for a short while but will ultimately die. If its offspring are not capable of existing in the new environment, then that species will be unable to remain established on that shore.

Some of these factors are:

  • the effects of latitude,
  • the role of water currents in determining water temperature and where plankton drift,
  • how wind affects wave and swell size,
  • the effects of wave strength and battering,
  • how tides determine the height at which an organism lives on shore,
  • how the desiccating and drying effect of the sun as well as air temperature is a major limiting factor on vertical distribution on a shore,
  • the effects of whether the substrate is hard, sandy or muddy, and
  • for some shores how salty or saline is the water which surrounds the organism at high tide.

Click on the above link-words, or the navigation items on the right to further explore how these factors affect where different animals and algae occur on a shore, or are distributed around Australia.


Bennett, I. (1987) W. J. Dakin's classic study: Australian Seashores. p. 3-12, Angus & Robertson, Sydney.

Davey, K. (1998) A Photographic Guide to Seashore Life of Australia. p.8, New Holland, Sydney.

Environmental Factors
Wind Effects
Wave Strength
Tidal Effects

Home Page
Rocky Shores
Tidal Levels
Intertidal Zonation
Environmental Factors
Biological Factors
Feeding Relationships



photo of Keith DaveyLife on Australian Seashores
by Keith Davey (C) 2000

Learning Consultant - Media
The University of Newcastle

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Scientific Consultant: Phil Colman
site created 01.01.98 : updated 01.04.2000