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Conceptualizing ecosystem degradation using mangrove forests as a model system

Yando, Erik S.; Sloey, Taylor M.; Dahdouh-Guebas, Farid; Rogers, Kerrylee; Abuchahla, Guilherme M.O.; Cannicci, Stefano; Canty, Steven W.J.; Jennerjahn, Tim C.; Ogurcak, Danielle E.; Adams, Janine B.; Connolly, Rod M.; Diele, Karen; Lee, Shing Yip; Rowntree, Jennifer K.; Sharma, Sahadev; Cavanaugh, Kyle C.; Cormier, Nicole; Feller, Ilka C.; Fratini, Sara; Ouyang, Xiaoguang; Wee, Alison K.S.; Friess, Daniel A.


Erik S. Yando

Taylor M. Sloey

Farid Dahdouh-Guebas

Kerrylee Rogers

Guilherme M.O. Abuchahla

Stefano Cannicci

Steven W.J. Canty

Tim C. Jennerjahn

Danielle E. Ogurcak

Janine B. Adams

Rod M. Connolly

Shing Yip Lee

Jennifer K. Rowntree

Sahadev Sharma

Kyle C. Cavanaugh

Nicole Cormier

Ilka C. Feller

Sara Fratini

Xiaoguang Ouyang

Alison K.S. Wee

Daniel A. Friess


The status and potential degradation of an ecosystem is often difficult to identify, quantify, and characterize. Multiple, concurrent drivers of degradation may interact and have cumulative and confounding effects, making mitigation and rehabilitation actions challenging to achieve. Ecosystem status assessments generally emphasize areal change (gains/losses) as a primary indicator; however, this over-simplifies complex ecosystem dynamics and ignores metrics that would better assess ecosystem quality. Consideration of multiple indicators is necessary to characterize and/or anticipate ecosystem degradation and appropriately identify factors causing changes. We utilize mangrove forests as a model system due to their distribution across a wide range of geographic settings, their position in the inherently dynamic coastal zone, and the multiple natural and anthropogenic pressures they face. We present a conceptual framework to: i) examine drivers of ecosystem degradation and characterize system status, and ii) delineate the roles of biogeographic and geomorphic variability, site history and typology, and references. A complementary workflow is proposed for implementing the conceptual framework. We demonstrate the universal applicability of our conceptual framework through a series of case studies that represent locations with differing drivers of degradation and biogeographic and geomorphic conditions. Our conceptual framework facilitates scientists, conservation practitioners, and other stakeholders in considering multiple aspects of ecosystems to better assess system status and holistically evaluate degradation. This is achieved by critically evaluating suitable comparisons and relevant elements in assessing a site to understand potential actions or the outcome of previously implemented management strategies.

Journal Article Type Article
Acceptance Date Sep 24, 2021
Online Publication Date Oct 13, 2021
Publication Date 2021-11
Deposit Date Oct 28, 2021
Publicly Available Date Oct 14, 2022
Journal Biological Conservation
Print ISSN 0006-3207
Publisher Elsevier
Peer Reviewed Peer Reviewed
Volume 263
Article Number 109355
Keywords Anthropogenic, Degradation, Function, Management, Mangrove Structure
Public URL


Conceptualizing Ecosystem Degradation Using Mangrove Forests As A Model System (Tables) (248 Kb)

Conceptualizing Ecosystem Degradation Using Mangrove Forests As A Model System (Fig.4) (71 Kb)

Conceptualizing Ecosystem Degradation Using Mangrove Forests As A Model System (Figs.1-3) (162 Kb)

Conceptualizing Ecosystem Degradation Using Mangrove Forests As A Model System (accepted version) (2.7 Mb)


Copyright Statement
Accepted version licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International (CC BY-NC-ND 4.0) license.

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