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Ellison Abstract- 2008 Ellison

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Ellison, A. M. 2008. Managing mangroves with benthic biodiversity in mind: moving beyond roving banditry. Journal of Sea Research 59: 2-15.


This review addresses mangrove management activities in the broader context of the diversity of the mangrove benthos. Goals for mangrove ecosystem management include silviculture, aquaculture, mariculture, or "ecosystem services" such as coastal protection. Silvicultural management of mangroves generally neglects the benthos, although benthic invertebrates may affect tree establishment and growth, and community composition of benthic invertebrates may be a reliable indicator of the state of managed mangrove forests. Similarly, mangrove aquaculture focuses on particular species with little attention paid either to impacts on other trophic levels or to feedbacks with the trees. Exploitation of mangrove-associated prawns, crabs, and mollusks has a total economic value > U.S. $4 billion/year. These aquaculture operations still rely on wild-collected stock; world-wide patterns of exploitation fit the well-known process of "roving banditry", where mobile agents move from location to location, rapidly exploiting and depleting local resources before moving on to other, as-yet unprotected grounds. Collection of brood stock and fishing for other external inputs required by aquaculture (e.g., "trash fish") removes intermediate trophic levels from marine food webs that may destabilize them, and lead to secondary extinctions of higher-order predators. Increased attention being paid to the role of mangroves in coastal protection following the 2004 Indian Ocean tsunami provides an opportunity to reassess the relative merits of management focused on short-term economic gains. Managing for ecosystem services may ultimately preserve benthic biodiversity in mangrove ecosystems.

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