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Long-term retrospection on mangrove development using sediment cores and pollen analysis

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Ellison, JC (2008) Long-term retrospection on mangrove development using sediment cores and pollen analysis. Aquatic Botany, 89 (2). pp. 93-104. ISSN 0304 3770

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Abstract

Mangroves are biogenic systems that accumulate sedimentary sequences, where cores can provide records of mangrove species variation in distribution with past climate change and sea-level change. Fossil evidence used for palaeoecological reconstruction is based on organic remains that preserve identifying features so that they can be identified to generic levels at least. This includes macrofossils such as fruit, flowers, wood or leaves, or microfossils particularly pollen. Anaerobic conditions in mangrove sediment allow the long-term preservation of these fossil records. Fossil pollen from core samples is concentrated for microscopic examination by use of standard chemical treatments, but refinements of these are necessary for the peculiarities of mangrove peat. Pollen diagrams are expressed in concentrations, or more usefully in mangrove environments as proportions relative to others, as this has been shown to demonstrate the depositional environment actually underneath the mangrove forest. Radiocarbon dating of sedimentary sequences is used to date palaeoecological successions shown by fossil sequences, or long-term sedimentation rates. Sediment accretion in the last 50–200 years can been analysed better using Cs137 and Pb210 analyses. From pollen and macrofossils mostly recovered from stratigraphic cores of sedimentary rock and more recent sediment, the evolution and dispersal of mangroves through geological time has been reconstructed. While reconstruction of actual temperatures in these earlier records is associative to the fossil types present, it is apparent that mangroves have always been tropical species, extending to higher latitudes only during global warm periods. Many sedimentary records show mangroves deeper than the present lower limit of mangrove growth at mean sea-level. These indicate sea-level rising over time, and mangroves keeping pace with rising sea-level. Stratigraphic dating shows accretion rates of 1 mm a−1 for low island locations, and up to 1.5 mm a−1 in high islands/continental margins. Sedimentary records can also show die-off of mangroves with more rapid sea-level rise and replacement by open water during rising sea-level, landward retreat of mangrove zones, or replacement of mangroves by freshwater forest with sedimentary infill. The causes of mangrove community changes identified in the palaeoecological record can only be inferred by comparison with ecological studies in the modern environment, the link between the two that may be possible through long-term mangrove monitoring being poorly established.

Item Type: Article
Keywords: Biotic effect; CO2; Ecophysiology; Flooding; Global climate change; Growth; Light; Nutrient; Salinity; Sea-level rise; Temperature
Journal or Publication Title: Aquatic Botany
Page Range: pp. 93-104
ISSN: 0304 3770
Identification Number - DOI: 10.1016/j.aquabot.2008.02.007
Additional Information: The definitive version is available at http://www.sciencedirect.com
Date Deposited: 11 Feb 2009 00:51
Last Modified: 18 Nov 2014 03:55
URI: http://eprints.utas.edu.au/id/eprint/8297
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