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Harris, L., Holness, S., Nel, R., Lombard, A.T. and Schoeman, D. 2013. Intertidal habitat composition and regional-scale shoreline morphology along the Benguela coast. Journal of Coastal Conservation, 17(1): 143-154


Description:

Intertidal habitat composition and regional-scale shoreline morphology along the Benguela coast.

Summary / Notes:

The Benguela Current Large Marine Ecosystem off southwest Africa is a regionally valued system because of its biological productivity, which supports high biomass throughout the foodweb, and a rich diversity of habitats and species. However, the region is exposed to numerous anthropogenic pressures that are likely to escalate under future economic growth. In response, the Benguela Current Commission called for a spatial biodiversity assessment (BCC-SBA) to identify conservation priorities, including potential areas for marine protected areas. The systematic conservation-planning approach to this assessment requires a fine-scale map of coastal habitats, which was not previously available for the region. Our aim was to undertake this mapping, within tight logistic and resource limitations. We used a previously derived methodology for mapping the distribution of coastal habitats from aerial imagery. The Benguela coast is approximately 5,047 km long. Half of this extent is sandy beach, a third is rocky and mixed shores, 13 % comprises lagoonal features, and the remainder (4 %) comprises estuaries and offshore islands. The distribution and extent of these coastal habitats differs substantially alongshore (i.e. with latitude), with conditions ranging north–south from hot, humid mangrove-lined lagoons, to hyper-arid coastal desert sandy beaches. Patterns in regional geology, climate and oceanography are proposed as the main drivers of spatial heterogeneity in coastal habitat types. The resulting ecological and socio-economic wealth requires proactive protection (supported through the BCC-SBA, for example), to ensure sustainable utilization of the rich natural resources, and persistence of these resources for the benefit of current and future generations. Keywords: Benguela Current Large Marine Ecosystem, Coastal habitats, Geographic information systems, Remote mapping, Systematic conservation planning.

Year: 2013

Type: Journal Article

URL: http://link.springer.com/article/10.1007/s11852-012-0226-z


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