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Dr. Barend van Maanen / University of Exeter

World - New Research Identifies 'Triple Trouble' for Mangrove Coasts

Some of the world's most valuable ecosystems are facing a "triple threat" to their long-term durability and survival, new research shows.

The study found that mangrove forests, their large biodiversity and the coastal protection they provide are under pressure from three distinct threats - sea-level rise, lack of mud and squeezed habitats.

The research, conducted by an international team of experts including Dr Barend van Maanen from the University of Exeter, identifies not only how these coastal forests get pushed against their shores, but also what causes the loss of their diversity.

It shows the negative effects of river dams that decrease the supply of mud that could otherwise raise mangrove soils, while buildings and seawalls largely occupy the space that mangroves require for survival.

The study is published in Environmental Research Letters.

Coastal mangrove forests are valuable, highly biodiverse ecosystems that protect coastal communities against storms.

Mangroves withstand flooding by tides and capture mud to raise their soils. But as the mangrove trees cannot survive if they are under water for too long, the combination of sea-level rise and decreasing mud supply from rivers poses a serious threat.

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Read also Mangrove diversity loss under sea-level rise triggered by bio-morphodynamic feedbacks and anthropogenic pressures, Danghan Xie et al., Nov. 10, 2020