Environmental challenges in a near-pristine mangrove estuary facing rapid urban and industrial development: Darwin Harbour, Northern Australia

Niels C. Munksgaard, Lindsay B. Hutley, Kristin N. Metcalfe, Anna C. Padovan, Carol Palmer, Karen S. Gibb

    Research output: Contribution to journalReview article

    Abstract

    The tropical, macro-tidal estuary of Darwin Harbour is in near-pristine condition and supports a rich biodiversity. However, urban and industrial development pressures are increasing in many parts of the catchment. This challenges us to improve our understanding of how the harbour's ecosystem responds to environmental threats and how best to optimise future development while preserving valuable ecosystem services. Here, we synthesise our current knowledge of several environmental aspects of the harbour and its catchment.

    The intertidal zone and its abundant mangrove forests account for a major proportion of primary productivity in Darwin Harbour. These areas also play a key role in preserving water quality by intercepting catchment-derived pollutants and they substantially influence the movement of sediment through the estuary. Darwin Harbour mangroves generally remain in healthy condition with extensive areas of highly biodiverse habitats near urban and industrial developments.

    The future health of Darwin Harbour depends substantially on the protection of the mangrove estate against further pressures from coastal land clearing, catchment derived pollutants and accelerated sedimentation from runoff and dredging. Rapid sea level rise (currently [Formula presented]8 mm/year) is a further significant threat to the stratified floristic assemblages and specialised invertebrate fauna typical of Darwin Harbour mangrove forests. These threats require development of new sensitive harbour-wide monitoring techniques to provide early warning of the excess accumulation of stressors and disruption to ecosystem functioning.

    Original languageEnglish
    Article number100438
    Pages (from-to)1-15
    Number of pages15
    JournalRegional Studies in Marine Science
    Volume25
    Early online date15 Nov 2018
    DOIs
    Publication statusPublished - Jan 2019

    Fingerprint Dive into the research topics of 'Environmental challenges in a near-pristine mangrove estuary facing rapid urban and industrial development: Darwin Harbour, Northern Australia'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

    Cite this