Poleward shifts in mangrove ranges over the past 70 years

Study examined historical mangrove records and describe significant latitudinal shifts in species worldwide, possibly driven by shifts in temperature and precipication

Data resources used via GBIF : 25,176 species occurrences
Rhizophora mangle
Rhizophora mangle L. observed in Levy County, FL, USA by Bill stitt (CC BY-NC 4.0)

Adapted to live in harsh coastal conditions, mangroves tolerate saltwater immersion and wave action. Climate change brings not only increasing temperatures and shifting precipitation, but also potential changes to sea level and salinity.

To quantify global mangrove response to climate change, this study used GBIF-mediated occurrences of ten mangrove species combined with climate data and quantified the rate of latitudinal shift since the 1950s.

Their analysis revealed significant poleward shifts in nine out of ten species examined, averaging 1.3 degrees latitude per decade in North America and 1.7 degrees in Australia. The authors described higher mean shift rates in seaward zones compared to other zones, and among crypto-viviparous species (where seeds germinate while still attached to the parent tree) compared to non-viviparous.

The climate data indicated that changes in temperature and precipitation in the past 70 years were the main drivers behind the mangrove range shifts. These results can help guide conservation and management to mitigate the effects of climate change in the future.

Fazlioglu F, Wan JSH and Chen L (2020) Latitudinal shifts in mangrove species worldwide: evidence from historical occurrence records. Hydrobiologia. Springer Science and Business Media LLC 847(19): 4111–4123. Available at: https://doi.org/10.1007/s10750-020-04403-x