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Sensors 2016, 16(12), 2010; doi:10.3390/s16122010

Is the Geographic Range of Mangrove Forests in the Conterminous United States Really Expanding?

1
Sensing and Spatial Analysis Branch, Office of Research and Development, United States Environmental Protection Agency, 109 T.W. Alexander Drive, Research Triangle Park, Durham, NC 27709, USA
2
ARSC Research and Technology Solutions, Contractor to U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) Earth Resources Observation and Science (EROS) Center, Sioux Falls, SD 57198, USA
*
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Academic Editor: Nicolas Baghdadi
Received: 21 August 2016 / Revised: 16 October 2016 / Accepted: 21 October 2016 / Published: 28 November 2016
(This article belongs to the Section Remote Sensors)
View Full-Text   |   Download PDF [8874 KB, uploaded 4 December 2016]   |  

Abstract

Changes in the distribution and abundance of mangrove species within and outside of their historic geographic range can have profound consequences in the provision of ecosystem goods and services they provide. Mangroves in the conterminous United States (CONUS) are believed to be expanding poleward (north) due to decreases in the frequency and severity of extreme cold events, while sea level rise is a factor often implicated in the landward expansion of mangroves locally. We used ~35 years of satellite imagery and in situ observations for CONUS and report that: (i) poleward expansion of mangrove forest is inconclusive, and may have stalled for now, and (ii) landward expansion is actively occurring within the historical northernmost limit. We revealed that the northernmost latitudinal limit of mangrove forests along the east and west coasts of Florida, in addition to Louisiana and Texas has not systematically expanded toward the pole. Mangrove area, however, expanded by 4.3% from 1980 to 2015 within the historic northernmost boundary, with the highest percentage of change in Texas and southern Florida. Several confounding factors such as sea level rise, absence or presence of sub-freezing temperatures, land use change, impoundment/dredging, changing hydrology, fire, storm, sedimentation and erosion, and mangrove planting are responsible for the change. Besides, sea level rise, relatively milder winters and the absence of sub-freezing temperatures in recent decades may be enabling the expansion locally. The results highlight the complex set of forcings acting on the northerly extent of mangroves and emphasize the need for long-term monitoring as this system increases in importance as a means to adapt to rising oceans and mitigate the effects of increased atmospheric CO2. View Full-Text
Keywords: geographic range expansion; mangrove forests; Landsat; climate change; mangrove change geographic range expansion; mangrove forests; Landsat; climate change; mangrove change
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This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited. (CC BY 4.0).

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Giri, C.; Long, J. Is the Geographic Range of Mangrove Forests in the Conterminous United States Really Expanding? Sensors 2016, 16, 2010.

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