Mangrove carbon dynamics in a human-impacted world

Professor Shing Yip (Joe) LEE

Australian Rivers Institute and School of Environment
Griffith University Gold Coast campus,Qld 4222, Australia

Tropical estuaries are the most heavily populated areas of the world. Coastal urbanisation, a global phenomenon, has and will continue to alter the structure of estuarine habitats and influence their capacity for beneficial ecosystem services such as nearshore fishery production. One of the central paradigms of tropical estuarine ecology is the role of mangroves in coastal carbon dynamics. Early studies of coastal wetlands emphasised their role of net exporters of carbon, whereas recent findings suggest that mangroves could serve as important long-term carbon storages. While many biophysical factors (e.g. the tidal regime, activity of key biota) influence the behaviour of tropical mangroves along this export-storage continuum, intense urbanisation and other human activities also significantly modify the actual role of mangroves in the organic matter dynamics of modern tropical estuaries. In this presentation, I will propose a conceptual model on carbon dynamics of tropical urban estuaries, discuss an example of how human activities and urbanisation in the catchment may shape estuarine and nearshore nutrient dynamics, and propose options and opportunities of managing tropical mangrove-dominated estuaries to maximise their services in a sustainable way.

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