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High variance in community structure and ecosystem carbon stocks of Fijian mangroves driven by differences in geomorphology and climate

Cameron, Clint and Kennedy, Bridget and Tuiwawa, Senilolia and Goldwater, Nick and Soapi, Katy M. and Lovelock, Catherine E. (2021) High variance in community structure and ecosystem carbon stocks of Fijian mangroves driven by differences in geomorphology and climate. Environmental Research, 192 . p. 110213. ISSN 0013-9351

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Mangrove ecosystems are particularly important for small island developing states of the Pacific, such as Fiji, which are at the forefront of the impacts of climate change. This is because of the ability of mangroves to mitigate storm surges and floods as well as their high carbon sequestration and storage capacity. However, there are few detailed studies on the spatial variation in mangrove structure and carbon stocks in Fiji, and this information is essential to support decision making by government and communities, enabling the development of effective mitigation and adaptation responses. We assessed mangrove forest structure in contrasting regions around Fiji's largest island, Viti Levu, within sites managed by indigenous (iTaukei) Fijians. Mangroves of the Ba, Nadroga-Navosa, and Rewa and Tailevu regions showed high variance in both structural complexity and ecosystem carbon stocks. Levels of variation were similar to that observed globally due to variable geomorphological and biophysical settings related to orographic rainfall, freshwater influx, tidal amplitude and cyclonic disturbances. High biomass, structurally complex forests occur on the wetter south-east coast (e.g. the Rewa Delta), while structurally uniform scrub mangroves dominate large areas of mangroves along the north-west (e.g. the Ba Delta) and west coast (e.g. the Tuva Delta). Mangroves of the Ba region displayed considerable damage from tropical cyclones, particularly in taller vegetation. All mangrove sites assessed were important reservoirs of carbon, with results when scaled to the spatial extent of mangroves in Fiji revealing that ecosystem carbon storage is disproportionate to area and equates to 73.3% of the carbon held within terrestrial rainforests, despite occupying just 7.3% of the total area. This underscores the importance of mangroves as valuable carbon sinks in Fiji and the need to develop incentives for improved conservation and restoration.

Item Type: Journal Article
Subjects: G Geography. Anthropology. Recreation > GE Environmental Sciences
Q Science > Q Science (General)
Divisions: Faculty of Science, Technology and Environment (FSTE) > Institute of Applied Science
Depositing User: Fulori Nainoca - Waqairagata
Date Deposited: 21 Oct 2020 23:17
Last Modified: 21 Oct 2020 23:17

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