The intertidal plant communities in north-eastern Australia, their carbon stores and vulnerability to extreme climate events

Addicott, Eda, Laurance, Susan G.W., Bannink, Peter, and Thompson, Simon (2020) The intertidal plant communities in north-eastern Australia, their carbon stores and vulnerability to extreme climate events. Aquatic Conservation: marine and freshwater ecosystems. (In Press)

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Abstract

During the strong El Nino event of 2015-2016 large-scale dieback of mangrove forests was observed in the Gulf of Carpentaria region of northern Australia. These and other intertidal communities are also extensive along the 7,400 km coastline of north-eastern Australia. Determination of their floristic composition, potential carbon (C) store and sequestration capacity, and vulnerability to climate extremes is required for their effective conservation management and was the aim of this study. Standardized, state-wide quantitative classification methods identified five mangrove forest and three saltmarsh communities covering 2,604 km(2)along this coastline. Estuarine and oceanic mangrove forests were mapped separately. Carbon storage and sequestration capacity of the intertidal communities and their vulnerability to strong El Nino events were estimated using published data and GIS analyses. An estimated potential 126.2 (+/- 27.3 SEM) Tg C and 8.3 (+/- 0.4 SD) Tg C were stored in the mangrove forests and saltmarshes, respectively. Comparatively, the rainforests of the region stored an estimated equivalent amount of C but covered three times the area, and the most widespread woodlands (Eucalyptus tetrodonta) of the region stored an estimated 1.5 times the C but covered 16 times the area. The C stored in the intertidal communities was estimated as equivalent to 493.47 Tg of CO(2,)valued at AU$6.8 billion on the Australian carbon market in December 2018. Annual C sequestration potential was 0.18-0.34 Tg C/year, valued between AU$8.9 and $17 million. Approximately 360 ha of mangrove forest was estimated as lost because of dieback during the 2015-16 El Nino event. Three types of mangrove forest were identified as potentially vulnerable to dieback from El Nino-driven climate events. This study highlights the national and global significance of these intertidal systems and our findings need to be incorporated in future conservation and development planning of northern Australia.

Item ID: 63844
Item Type: Article (Research - C1)
ISSN: 1099-0755
Keywords: carbon storage, coastal, dieback, ecosystem services, intertidal, landscape, mangrove, saltmarsh, sea-level rise, vegetation
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Copyright Information: © 2020 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.
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A version of this publication was included as Chapter 6 of the following PhD thesis: Addicott, Eda Patricia (2019) A new classification approach: improving the regional ecosystem classification system in Queensland, Australia. PhD thesis, James Cook University, which is available Open Access in ResearchOnline@JCU. Please see the Related URLs for access.

Date Deposited: 22 Jul 2020 07:34
FoR Codes: 05 ENVIRONMENTAL SCIENCES > 0501 Ecological Applications > 050102 Ecosystem Function @ 100%
SEO Codes: 96 ENVIRONMENT > 9608 Flora, Fauna and Biodiversity > 960805 Flora, Fauna and Biodiversity at Regional or Larger Scales @ 100%
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