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Are all intertidal wetlands naturally created equal? Bottlenecks, thresholds and knowledge gaps to mangrove and saltmarsh ecosystems

Authors

  • Daniel A. Friess,

    Corresponding author
    1. Singapore-Delft Water Alliance, National University of Singapore, Engineering Drive 2, Singapore 117576
    2. Department of Biological Sciences, National University of Singapore, Science Drive 4, Singapore 117543
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  • Ken W. Krauss,

    1. US Geological Survey, National Wetlands Research Center, 700 Cajundome Boulevard, Lafayette, LA 70506, USA
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  • Erik M. Horstman,

    1. Singapore-Delft Water Alliance, National University of Singapore, Engineering Drive 2, Singapore 117576
    2. Water Engineering and Management, University of Twente, PO Box 217, 7500 AE Enschede, The Netherlands
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  • Thorsten Balke,

    1. Singapore-Delft Water Alliance, National University of Singapore, Engineering Drive 2, Singapore 117576
    2. Marine and Coastal Systems, Deltares, PO Box 177, 2600 MH Delft, The Netherlands
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  • Tjeerd J. Bouma,

    1. Marine and Coastal Systems, Deltares, PO Box 177, 2600 MH Delft, The Netherlands
    2. Netherlands Institute of Ecology (NIOO-KNAW), PO Box 140, NL-4400 AC, The Netherlands
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  • Demis Galli,

    1. Department of Biological Sciences, National University of Singapore, Science Drive 4, Singapore 117543
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  • Edward L. Webb

    1. Department of Biological Sciences, National University of Singapore, Science Drive 4, Singapore 117543
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(Tel: +65 6516 7836; E-mail: dan.friess@nus.edu.sg).

Abstract

Intertidal wetlands such as saltmarshes and mangroves provide numerous important ecological functions, though they are in rapid and global decline. To better conserve and restore these wetland ecosystems, we need an understanding of the fundamental natural bottlenecks and thresholds to their establishment and long-term ecological maintenance. Despite inhabiting similar intertidal positions, the biological traits of these systems differ markedly in structure, phenology, life history, phylogeny and dispersal, suggesting large differences in biophysical interactions. By providing the first systematic comparison between saltmarshes and mangroves, we unravel how the interplay between species-specific life-history traits, biophysical interactions and biogeomorphological feedback processes determine where, when and what wetland can establish, the thresholds to long-term ecosystem stability, and constraints to genetic connectivity between intertidal wetland populations at the landscape level. To understand these process interactions, research into the constraints to wetland development, and biological adaptations to overcome these critical bottlenecks and thresholds requires a truly interdisciplinary approach.

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