Mangrove coast

Duke, Norman (2014) Mangrove coast. In: Harff, Jan, Meschede, Martin, Petersen, Sven, and Thiede, Jörn, (eds.) Encyclopedia of Marine Geosciences. Encyclopedia of Earth Sciences Series . Springer, The Netherlands, pp. 412-422.

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[Extract] Mangrove Coasts are shorelines fringed by mangrove and saltmarsh vegetation. They form a significant part of coastal tidal wetlands as distinctive habitats of tropic and temperate shorelines. Tidal wetlands have vegetation of varying complexities from forested mangrove woodlands, thick mangrove and saltmarsh shrubbery, low dense samphire plains, to microlagal covered saltpans (Tomlinson 1994). In the tropics, mangroves are often the dominant shoreline ecosystem comprised chiefly of flowering trees and shrubs uniquely adapted to coastal and estuarine tidal conditions (Duke 2011). They form distinctly vegetated and often densely structured habitat of verdant closed canopies cloaking coastal margins and tidal waterways of equatorial, tropical and subtropical regions of the world. Normally, but not exclusively, these vegetation assemblages grow in soft sediments above mean sea level in the intertidal zone of sheltered coastal environments and estuarine margins (Fig. 1).

The plants of Mangrove Coasts are well-known for their morphological and physiological adaptations coping with salt, saturated anoxic soils and regular tidal inundation; notably with specialised attributes like: exposed air-breathing roots above ground; extra, above-ground stem support structures; salt-excreting leaves; low water potentials and high intracellular salt concentrations to maintain favorable water relations in saline environments; and viviparous water-dispersed propagules. With such attributes, these habitats have essential roles in coastal productivity and connectivity, often supporting high biodiversity and biomass not possible in upland vegetation, especially in more arid regions.

Mangrove Coasts are key sources of primary production with highly dependant trophic linkages between plants and animals, as nursery and breeding sites of benthic and arboreal life, as well as physical shelter and protection from severe storms, river flows and large tsunami waves. Within tropical latitudes, mangrove coasts nestle mostly between two other iconic ecosystems of coral reefs and tropical rainforests. All three are intimately inter-connected, providing mutual protection and sustenance. Each of these ecosystems also create biota-structured environments, where the organisms themselves provide and build the physical structure amongst which associated life is nurtured and sheltered. Without this living structure, these habitats and the many organisms dependant on them, simply would not exist. This essentially identifies how such a large group of plants and animals are so vulnerable.

For example, bordering Mangrove Coasts, colonial coral reefs often flourish in the shallow warm seas created and protected from land runoff by mangrove vegetation (Duke & Wolanski 2001). Mangroves absorb unwanted nutrients and sediments of turbid waters to stabilize eroding and depositional shorelines. In modern human times, this buffering role also includes the capture of harmful chemicals in runoff waters from agricultural lands. The specialised plant assemblages of Mangrove Coasts provide a broad range of essential, and often under-valued, ecosystem services along with their more acknowledged roles as habitats of high productivity, and as fishery nursery sites (Robertson & Duke 1990). In such ways, the consequences of disturbing Mangrove Coast habitats are expected to have far-reaching implications and impacts on neighboring ecosystems and dependant biota.

Item ID: 48494
Item Type: Book Chapter (Reference)
ISBN: 978-94-007-6237-4
Keywords: mangrove; habitat; biodiversity; ecology; conservation; vulnerability; condition assessment; classification; drivers of change; IWP; AEP; world
Date Deposited: 19 Sep 2017 23:30
FoR Codes: 05 ENVIRONMENTAL SCIENCES > 0501 Ecological Applications > 050101 Ecological Impacts of Climate Change @ 40%
05 ENVIRONMENTAL SCIENCES > 0502 Environmental Science and Management > 050206 Environmental Monitoring @ 30%
06 BIOLOGICAL SCIENCES > 0602 Ecology > 060205 Marine and Estuarine Ecology (incl Marine Ichthyology) @ 30%
SEO Codes: 96 ENVIRONMENT > 9603 Climate and Climate Change > 960305 Ecosystem Adaptation to Climate Change @ 40%
96 ENVIRONMENT > 9608 Flora, Fauna and Biodiversity > 960802 Coastal and Estuarine Flora, Fauna and Biodiversity @ 30%
97 EXPANDING KNOWLEDGE > 970105 Expanding Knowledge in the Environmental Sciences @ 30%
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