An emerging coastal wetland management dilemma between mangrove expansion and shorebird conservation.

Journal Article (Journal Article)

Coastal wetlands around the world have been degraded by human activities. Global declines in the extent of important habitats including mangroves, salt marsh and tidal flats necessitate mitigation and restoration efforts, however some well-meaning management actions, particularly mangrove afforestation and breakwater construction, can inadvertently cause further loss and degradation if these actions are not planned carefully. In particular, there is a potential conflict between mangrove and shorebird conservation, because mangrove afforestation and restoration may occur at the expense of bare tidal flats, which form the main foraging habitats for threatened coastal migratory shorebirds as well as supporting other coastal organisms. Here, we present several case studies that illustrate the trade-off between mangroves and bare tidal flats. To investigate whether these examples reflect an emerging broad-scale issue, we use satellite imagery to develop a detailed quantification of the change in mangrove habitat extent in 22 important shorebird areas in mainland China between 2000 and 2015. Our results indicate that 1) the extent of mangroves across all sites expanded significantly between 2000 and 2015 (p < 0.01, n = 14) while tidal flat extent in the same areas declined significantly within the same period (p < 0.01, n = 21); 2) among the 14 sites where mangroves were present, the dual threat of mangrove expansion and tidal flat loss have considerably reduced shorebird habitat in eight of these sites. To ensure effective conservation of both mangroves and shorebirds, we propose a decision tree framework for resolving this emerging dilemma between mangrove afforestation and shorebird protection, which requires careful consideration of alternative management strategies. This article is protected by copyright. All rights reserved.

Full Text

Duke Authors

Cited Authors

  • Choi, C-Y; Xiao, H; Jia, M; Jackson, MV; Lai, Y-C; Murray, NJ; Gibson, L; Fuller, RA

Published Date

  • February 2022

Published In

PubMed ID

  • 35212027

Pubmed Central ID

  • PMC9912193

Electronic International Standard Serial Number (EISSN)

  • 1523-1739

International Standard Serial Number (ISSN)

  • 0888-8892

Digital Object Identifier (DOI)

  • 10.1111/cobi.13905


  • eng