From Bathymetry to Bioshields: A Review of Post-Tsunami Ecological Research in India and its Implications for Policy

Laboratory of Plant Biology and Nature Management, Faculty of Sciences and Bio-Engineering Sciences, Vrije Universiteit Brussel (VUB), Brussels, Belgium.
Environmental Management (Impact Factor: 1.72). 09/2010; 46(3):329-39. DOI: 10.1007/s00267-010-9523-1
Source: PubMed


More than half a decade has passed since the December 26th 2004 tsunami hit the Indian coast leaving a trail of ecological, economic and human destruction in its wake. We reviewed the coastal ecological research carried out in India in the light of the tsunami. In addition, we also briefly reviewed the ecological research in other tsunami affected countries in Asia namely Sri Lanka, Indonesia, Thailand and Maldives in order to provide a broader perspective of ecological research after tsunami. A basic search in ISI Web of Knowledge using keywords "tsunami" and "India" resulted in 127 peer reviewed journal articles, of which 39 articles were pertaining to ecological sciences. In comparison, Sri Lanka, Indonesia, Thailand and Maldives had, respectively, eight, four, 21 and two articles pertaining to ecology. In India, bioshields received the major share of scientific interest (14 out of 39) while only one study (each) was dedicated to corals, seagrasses, seaweeds and meiofauna, pointing to the paucity of research attention dedicated to these critical ecosystems. We noted that very few interdisciplinary studies looked at linkages between pure/applied sciences and the social sciences in India. In addition, there appears to be little correlation between the limited research that was done and its influence on policy in India. This review points to gap areas in ecological research in India and highlights the lessons learnt from research in other tsunami-affected countries. It also provides guidance on the links between science and policy that are required for effective coastal zone management.

Download full-text


Available from: Rohan Arthur,
58 Reads
  • Source
    • "Mangrove forests are a valuable economic resource as important breeding grounds and nursery sites for various animal species, including offshore fish populations (Barbier, 2000; Nagelkerken et al., 2008). They stabilize coastal lands and offer protection against storms, tsunamis, and sea-level rise (e.g., Dahdouh-Guebas et al., 2005; Mukherjee et al., 2010). More than 90% of the world's mangroves are located in developing countries (Duke et al., 2007), where impoverished human populations depend on their resources for subsistence (Walters et al., 2008). "
    [Show abstract] [Hide abstract]
    ABSTRACT: Throughout the last 15 years, researchers at the National University of Colombia at Medellin have studied Colombian mangroves. Remote sensing, pollen analysis of superficial and deep sediments, Holocene coastal vegetation dynamics, sediment dating using 14C and 210Pb, sampling in temporary plots, sampling in temporary and permanent plots, and other techniques have been applied to elucidate long- and short-term mangrove community dynamics. The studied root fouling community is structured by several regulatory mechanisms; habitat heterogeneity increases species richness and abundance. Fringe mangroves were related to Ca concentration in the soil and the increased dominance of Laguncularia racemosa and other nonmangrove tree species, while the riverine mangroves were associated with Mg concentration and the dominance of Rhizophora mangle. The seedling and mangrove tree distributions are determined by a complex gradient of natural and anthropogenic disturbances. Mangrove pollen from surface sediments and the existing vegetation and geomorphology are close interrelated. Plant pollen of mangrove and salt marsh reflects environmental and disturbance conditions, and also reveals forest types. Forest dynamics in both coasts and their sensitivity of to anthropogenic processes are well documented in the Late Quaternary fossil record. Our studies of short and long term allow us to predict the dynamics of mangroves under different scenarios of climate change and anthropogenic stress factors that are operating in Colombian coasts. Future research arises from these results on mangrove forests dynamics, sea-level rise at a fine scale using palynology, conservation biology, and carbon dynamics.
    Acta Oecologica 01/2015; 63. DOI:10.1016/j.actao.2015.01.001 · 1.62 Impact Factor
  • Source
    • "In this context, Jallow et al. (1996) identified some response strategies and adaptation options for this area including wetland preservation and mitigation. At this point, we recall that mangroves are suggested to play a role in the protection of tropical coasts (Dahdouh-Guebas and Koedam 2006; Mukherjee et al. 2010). Apart from research on fishery-related aspects (e.g., Albaret et al. 2004; Laë et al. 2004; Ecoutin et al. 2005; Simier et al. 2006), studies on The Gambian mangroves remain scarce in the scientific literature. "
    [Show abstract] [Hide abstract]
    ABSTRACT: Although mangroves dominated by Avicennia germinans and Rhizophora mangle are extending over 6000 ha in the Tanbi Wetland National Park (TWNP) (The Gambia), their importance for local populations (both peri-urban and urban) is not well documented. For the first time, this study evaluates the different mangrove resources in and around Banjul (i.e., timber, non-timber, edible, and ethnomedicinal products) and their utilization patterns, including the possibility of ecotourism development. The questionnaire-based results have indicated that more than 80% of peri-urban population rely on mangroves for timber and non-timber products and consider them as very important for their livelihoods. However, at the same time, urban households demonstrate limited knowledge on mangrove species and their ecological/economic benefits. Among others, fishing (including the oyster-Crassostrea cf. gasar collection) and tourism are the major income-generating activities found in the TWNP. The age-old practices of agriculture in some parts of the TWNP are due to scarcity of land available for agriculture, increased family size, and alternative sources of income. The recent focus on ecotourism (i.e., boardwalk construction inside the mangroves near Banjul city) received a positive response from the local stakeholders (i.e., users, government, and non-government organizations), with their appropriate roles in sharing the revenue, rights, and responsibilities of this project. Though the guidelines for conservation and management of the TWNP seem to be compatible, the harmony between local people and sustainable resource utilization should be ascertained.
    AMBIO A Journal of the Human Environment 02/2012; 41(5):513-26. DOI:10.1007/s13280-012-0248-7 · 2.29 Impact Factor
  • Source
    [Show abstract] [Hide abstract]
    ABSTRACT: The Indian Ocean tsunami event of December 26, 2004 not only left massive casualties and economic damages, but also raised concerns about the destruction and recovery of coastal ecosystems. This work aimed to analyze the spatial patterns and temporal trajectories of vegetation damage and recovery using a multisensor multitemporal remote sensing, dataset. Using the study area of Koh Phra Thong, Thailand as a case study, we demonstrate the capabilities of remote sensing analysis in assessing the consequences of an extreme flooding event on the dynamics of coastal vegetation. Field surveys and satellite mid-resolution multispectral satellite data covering the period from February 2003 to December 2009 were used to map flooded areas and coastal vegetation loss and recovery following the tsunami. Normalized Difference Reflectance change detection was performed to map the extent of flooded areas. Vegetation Fraction Cover derived using spectral unmixing techniques was used to study the multitemporal changes in coastal vegetation after the event. Vegetation change detection techniques were applied to characterize the vegetation cover changes in two different time frames: short-term changes (from 4 days to 1 year after the event), and long-term dynamics (up to 5 years after). Estimates of vegetation change (decline, recovery, and gain) were quantified and mapped, with extreme vegetation losses found directly after the tsunami (up to 79 % in flooded areas). After 1 year, different trends had developed, indicating that recovering vegetation had reached up to 55 % of pre-tsunami land cover, but with different trajectories for each vegetation type.
    Natural Hazards 10/2012; 64(1). DOI:10.1007/s11069-012-0261-y · 1.72 Impact Factor
Show more