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Sci Rep. 2016 Jun 23;6:28466. doi: 10.1038/srep28466.

Responses of eastern Chinese coastal salt marshes to sea-level rise combined with vegetative and sedimentary processes.

Author information

1
State Key Laboratory of Estuarine and Coastal Research, East China Normal University, Shanghai 200062, China.
2
School of Forest Sciences, University of Eastern Finland, Joensuu 80101, Finland.
3
Ministry of Education Key Laboratory for Biodiversity Science and Ecological Engineering, Fudan University, Shanghai 200433, China.

Abstract

The impacts of sea-level rise (SLR) on coastal ecosystems have attracted worldwide attention in relation to global change. In this study, the salt marsh model for the Yangtze Estuary (SMM-YE, developed in China) and the Sea Level Affecting Marshes Model (SLAMM, developed in the U.S.) were used to simulate the effects of SLR on the coastal salt marshes in eastern China. The changes in the dominant species in the plant community were also considered. Predictions based on the SLAMM indicated a trend of habitat degradation up to 2100; total salt marsh habitat area continued to decline (4-16%) based on the low-level scenario, with greater losses (6-25%) predicted under the high-level scenario. The SMM-YE showed that the salt marshes could be resilient to threats of SLR through the processes of accretion of mudflats, vegetation expansion and sediment trapping by plants. This model predicted that salt marsh areas increased (3-6%) under the low-level scenario. The decrease in the total habitat area with the SMM-YE under the high-level scenario was much lower than the SLAMM prediction. Nevertheless, SLR might negatively affect the salt marsh species that are not adapted to prolonged inundation. An adaptive strategy for responding to changes in sediment resources is necessary in the Yangtze Estuary.

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