The history of surface-elevation paradigms in mangrove biogeomorphology

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Positioned in the intertidal zone, mangrove forests are a key model ecosystem with which to observe and test biogeomorphological concepts. Understanding how mangroves interact with their intertidal environment, particularly tidal inundation, is important if we are to assess their vulnerability or resilience to accelerated sea-level rise. While various biogeomorphological processes are now well studied in mangroves, these are not new concepts, and researchers often do not adequately describe their historical origins. This chapter discusses the historical context of two key paradigms in mangrove biogeomorphology: (1) the distribution of mangroves across the intertidal zone is controlled primarily by tidal inundation and (2) mangroves can adjust their elevation relative to the tidal frame through a combination of minerogenic and biogenic processes. The first paradigm had been noted as early as 350 BC, and studied quantitatively since at least the 1920s in Malaysia. The concept of “Inundation Classes” introduced at that time is still used by mangrove restoration practitioners today. The second paradigm has its roots in debates over whether mangroves are “land builders” or “land consolidators” in the early 20th century, and our view of this paradigm is strongly influenced by the geomorphic setting in which we work. It is important for us to understand the historical underpinnings of mangrove science and how they have shaped the paradigms that we use today. At a time when the mangrove research field is rapidly expanding, it is also important to acknowledge the intellectual contribution of researchers upon which we build today's science.

Publication type Book chapter
Publication Subtype Book Chapter
Title The history of surface-elevation paradigms in mangrove biogeomorphology
Chapter 7
DOI 10.1016/B978-0-12-816437-2.00007-0
Year Published 2021
Language English
Publisher Elsevier
Contributing office(s) Wetland and Aquatic Research Center
Description 20 p.
Larger Work Type Book
Larger Work Subtype Monograph
Larger Work Title Dynamic sedimentary environments of mangrove coasts
First page 179
Last page 198
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