Ecological functions in marine sedimentary habitats are greatly influenced by bio-engineering organisms. Thalassinidean crustaceans are particularly important in this regard, given their density, spatial occupancy and burrowing depths. These features coupled with high per capita engineering rates (bioturbation mainly) and the ability to modulate multiple resources simultaneously, place thalassinids amongst the most influential of ecosystem engineers in marine ecosystems. Research on these organisms has focused on mechanisms by which engineering effects are propagated, whilst drawing attention to the impact of ecosystem modification on ecological processes. However, disparities in the outcomes of global research suggest that complex dependencies underpin ecological responses to thalassinideans that we do not yet fully understand. It is in this context that this review draws attention to some of the dependencies in question, specifically by using existing models and hypotheses to (i) demonstrate how these dependencies can alter ecological responses to ecosystem engineering by thalassinids, and (ii) explain variability observed in outcomes of existing research. This review also shows the potential for explicit inclusion of such dependencies in future research to generate new knowledge on thalassinidean ecosystem engineering, from both fundamental and global change perspectives. More broadly, this review is a contribution towards advancing a predictive and mechanistic understanding of thalassinidean ecosystem engineering, in which biotic and abiotic dependencies are integrated.
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