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Landscape-Level Consequences of Rising Sea-Level on Coastal Wetlands: Saltwater Intrusion Drives Displacement and Mortality in the Twenty-First Century

Author(s):

Mei Yu
Elsie Rivera-Ocasio
Daniel Davila-Casanova
Neftalí Rios-López
Qiong Gao

Year:

2019

Publication type:

Scientific Journal (JRNL)

Primary Station(s):

International Institute of Tropical Forestry

Source:

Wetlands

Description

Coastal wetlands are shrinking rapidly due to land-use activities. Accelerated sea-level rise (SLR) associated to the warming climate is also affecting coastal wetlands, particularly in islands with limited coastal plains.We analyzed coastal wetland changes in Puerto Rico by applying the Sea Level Affecting Marshes Model under two scenarios by 2100.We also analyzed mortality and recruitment in a freshwater swamp dominated by the tree Pterocarpus officinalis Jacq. in the context of landscape saltwaterintrusion and drought. Our results indicate mangroves and estuarine water would replace the areas currently covered by other saltwater and freshwater wetlands, and saltmarsh would encounter the most relative loss among wetland types. A moderate SLR of 1 m by 2100 allows expansion of mangroves but would decrease saltmarsh and freshwater wetlands. A 2-m SLR would decrease the distributions of all vegetated wetlands, mostly replaced by estuarine water. In the P. officinalis forest, saltwaterintrusion and drought increased tree mortality during 2003–2015 compared to 1994–2003. Saltwater intrusion had a more significant negative effect on tree recruitment than on mortality in this Pterocarpus forest. Coastal wetlands are facing challenges to their persistence at current locations due to accelerated SLR, limited coastal lands, and a modified hydrological regime.

Citation

Yu, Mei; Rivera-Ocasio, Elsie; Heartsill-Scalley, Tamara; Davila-Casanova, Daniel; Rios-López, Neftalí; Gao, Qiong. 2019. Landscape-Level Consequences of Rising Sea-Level on Coastal Wetlands: Saltwater Intrusion Drives Displacement and Mortality in the Twenty-First Century. Wetlands. 44(10): 402-. https://doi.org/10.1007/s13157-019-01138-x.

Cited

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https://www.fs.usda.gov/treesearch/pubs/57990