Ministry of Education Key Laboratory of Coast and Island Development

Nanjing, China

Ministry of Education Key Laboratory of Coast and Island Development

Nanjing, China
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Gao S.,Ministry of Education Key Laboratory of Coast and Island Development | Du Y.F.,Ministry of Education Key Laboratory of Coast and Island Development | Xie W.J.,Ministry of Education Key Laboratory of Coast and Island Development | Gao W.H.,Ministry of Education Key Laboratory of Coast and Island Development | And 2 more authors.
Science China Earth Sciences | Year: 2014

Spartina alterniflora is ecologically important in its original habitat; however, it has caused controversy since it was introduction into China (now it has been spreading rapidly on the Jiangsu, Shanghai, Zhejiang and Fujian coasts). The purpose of the present contribution is, on the basis of an analysis and synthesis of existing data sets, to evaluate the environmental-ecological effects of S. alterniflora, and to identify the relevant scientific problems that require further research in the future. Investigations have shown that, by reducing the near-bed shear stress associated with tidal currents, S. alterniflora can enhance the settling flux of suspended sediment and deposition rate on the tidal flats over the region. Further, field survey and analysis indicate that the S. alterniflora salt-marsh has a high primary production and provides a new type of habitat for the native benthic fauna. Some macro-, meio- and micro-fauna that used to live in the native salt-marshes have adapted to the S. alterniflora salt-marsh, forming a new ecosystem. Under the influences of a number of background factors, such as latitude variations and the coastal type, the environmental-ecological changes induced by Spartine have regional differentiations. To the north of Hangzhou Bay, with a high position of the pre-Holocene stratum base, a large width of the tidal flats, and a gentle bed slope, only a small part of the intertidal zone is occupied by the S. alterniflora salt-marsh. Here, the S. alterniflora salt-marshes mainly play a positive role in coastal protection and ecosystem functioning. In contrary, to the South of Hangzhou Bay, The pre-Holocene deposits are situated in relatively deeo waters, and the width of the tidal flats formed within coastal embayments is relatively narrow. As such, the expansion of S. alterniflora has squeezed the living space of other intertidal organisms, thus has a negative ecological effect. Therefore, the regional differentiation of the Spartina effects should be sufficiently considered in coastal development and management. Furthermore, in order to predict the future evolution of the S. alterniflora wetlands over the region, in addition to in situ monitoring and measurements, an ecosystem dynamic model should be established, taking into account the coupling of the rerrestrial and marine environmental-ecological processes. © 2014, Science China Press and Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg.

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