A birds-eye view of biological connectivity in mangrove systems

Buelow, Christina, and Sheaves, Marcus (2015) A birds-eye view of biological connectivity in mangrove systems. Estuarine, Coastal and Shelf Science, 152. pp. 33-43.

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Considerable advances in understanding of biological connectivity have flowed from studies of fish-facilitated connectivity within the coastal ecosystem mosaic. However, there are limits to the information that fish can provide on connectivity. Mangrove-bird communities have the potential to connect coastal habitats in different ways and at different scales than fish, so incorporation of these links into our models of coastal ecosystem mosaics affords the opportunity to greatly increase the breadth of our understanding. We review the habitat and foraging requirements of mangrove-bird functional groups to understand how bird use of mangroves facilitates biological connectivity in coastal ecosystem mosaics, and how that connectivity adds to the diversity and complexity of ecological processes in mangrove ecosystems.

Avian biological connectivity is primarily characterized by foraging behavior and habitat/resource requirements. Therefore, the consequence of bird links for coastal ecosystem functioning largely depends on patterns of habitat use and foraging, and potentially influences nutrient cycling, top down control and genetic information linkage. Habitats that experience concentrated bird guano deposition have high levels of nitrogen and phosphorus, placing particular importance on the consequences of avian nutrient translocation and subsidization for coastal ecosystem functioning.

High mobility allows mangrove-bird communities to link mangrove forests to other mangrove, terrestrial and marine-pelagic systems. Therefore, the spatial scale of coastal connectivity facilitated by birds is substantially more extensive than fish-facilitated connectivity. In particular, migratory birds link habitats at regional, continental and inter-continental scales as they travel among seasonally available feeding areas from breeding grounds to non-breeding grounds; scales at which there are few fish equivalents. Knowledge of the nature and patterns of fish connectivity have contributed to shifting the initial, historical perception of mangrove-ecosystem functioning from that of a simple system based on nutrient and energy retention, to a view that includes fish-facilitated energy export. In a similar way, understanding the nature and implications of mangrove connectivity through bird movements and migrations affords new possibilities for revising our view of the extent of functional links between mangroves and other ecosystems.

Item ID: 41798
Item Type: Article (Research - C1)
ISSN: 1096-0015
Keywords: biological connectivity, coastal zone, mangrove, avian functional group, nutrient cycle, habitat selection
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A version of this publication was included as Chapter 2 of the following PhD thesis: Buelow, Christina Amy (2017) Integrated assessment of ecosystem connectivity and functioning: coastal forest avifauna of northeast Australia. PhD thesis, James Cook University, which is available Open Access in ResearchOnline@JCU. Please see the Related URLs for access.

Date Deposited: 08 Dec 2015 18:39
FoR Codes: 06 BIOLOGICAL SCIENCES > 0602 Ecology > 060205 Marine and Estuarine Ecology (incl Marine Ichthyology) @ 100%
SEO Codes: 96 ENVIRONMENT > 9608 Flora, Fauna and Biodiversity > 960802 Coastal and Estuarine Flora, Fauna and Biodiversity @ 100%
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