For a world without boundaries: connectivity between marine tropical ecosystems in times of change

Tropical mangrove forests, seagrass beds, and coral reefs are among the most diverse and productive ecosystems on Earth. Their evolution in dynamic, and ever-changing environments means they have developed a capacity to withstand and recover (i.e., are resilient) from disturbances caused by anthropogenic activities and climatic perturbations. Their resilience can be attributed, in part, to a range of cross-ecosystem interactions whereby one ecosystem creates favorable conditions for the maintenance of its neighbors. However, in recent decades, expanding human populations have augmented anthropogenic activities and driven changes in global climate, resulting in increased frequencies and intensities of disturbances to these ecosystems. Many contemporary environments are failing to regenerate following these disturbances and consequently, large-scale degradation and losses of ecosystems on the tropical seascape are being observed. This chapter reviews the wealth of available literature focused on the tropical marine seascape to investigate the degree of connectivity between its ecosystems and how cross-ecosystem interactions may be impacted by ever-increasing anthropogenic activities and human-induced climate change. Furthermore, it investigates how disruption and/or loss of these cross-ecosystem interactions may impact the success of neighboring ecosystems and consequently, the highly-valued ecosystem services to which these ecosystems give rise. The findings from this review highlight the degree of connectivity between mangroves, seagrasses and coral reefs, and emphasizes the need for a holistic, seascape-wide research approach to successfully protect and preserve these critically important ecosystems and their associated services for future generations.

Earp H. S., Prinz N., Cziesielski N. J. & Andskog M., 2018. For a world without boundaries: connectivity between marine tropical ecosystems in times of change. In: Jungblut S., Liebich V. & Bode M. (Eds.), YOUMARES 8 – Oceans Across Boundaries: Learning from each other, pp 125-144. Springer, Cham. Chapter.

 

 

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