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The history of surface-elevation paradigms in mangrove biogeomorphology

January 22, 2021

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.

Citation Information

Publication Year 2021
Title The history of surface-elevation paradigms in mangrove biogeomorphology
DOI 10.1016/B978-0-12-816437-2.00007-0
Authors Daniel A. Friess, Karen L. McKee
Publication Type Book Chapter
Publication Subtype Book Chapter
Series Title
Series Number
Index ID 70213169
Record Source USGS Publications Warehouse
USGS Organization Wetland and Aquatic Research Center