Ecosystem Recovery in Response to Natural and Human Disturbance: Pang Nga Bay Thailand
Description of the Research Project:
There is increasing recognition of the value of mangrove forests, seagrass meadows, and coral reefs in providing habitat for important ocean products and protecting coastal communities from natural disasters, including tsunamis. Both natural events and human activity stress all of these ecosystems; and most are now in decline compared with historical periods. For example, mangrove coverage along the Andaman Coast and in the Gulf of Thailand has decreased by almost 20% in the last thirty years, largely in response to human disturbance, but also natural events. Some researchers believe that the health of any one of these components relies, in part, on chemical, biological, and hydrodynamic interaction between all components. Such ecosystem "facilitation", which has yet to be shown in the Indian Ocean where biodiversity is very high, may be of enormous importance for the protection of coastlines from natural disasters, as well as, the preservation of fishing livelihoods. The objective of this project is to understand the extent that ecosystem facilitation occurs between mangrove forests, sea grass meadows, and coral reefs, with respect to natural and anthropogenic stressing phenomena.
Student's role in this project:
Students participate in field sampling campaigns and lab analysis of sediment and selected element fluxes among mangrove, seagrass, and coral ecosystems at the field site in Southern Thailand. The students will work with graduate students and post-doc students in a field setting on the remote island of Ko Yao Yai in Pang Nga Bay, along the Andaman Coast of Thailand. The student contributions will help form the basis for published works, and collected data will be used to parameterise models predicting sediment and nutrient movement between the three ecosystem components.