Mangroves as Fish Habitat
The mangroves ecosystem is an astonishingly diverse ecosystem, occurring in marine, estuarine, and riverine shorelines with a wide-ranging tolerance to salinity, substrate, and rainfall. In addition to their own species diversity, the variety of life they support is equally astonishing. The role they play in feeding, refugia, and as nesting or nursery areas for the life within their boundaries is a vital one.
Within the past decade, mangroves have received much international scientific and conservation attention, which has rapidly increased the knowledge on the fundamental role of mangroves in coastal health and ecosystem services. At a time when there is rapid and worldwide demise of mangrove forests, the scientific literature on the connectivity to fish diversity, abundance, and production, as well as the relationships of intact mangrove forests to mitigating effects of climate change, as carbon-sinks, and their role in ecosystem services, continues to prove how vital these ecosystems are. As is common with most habitats under threat, the science of restoration of mangrove habitat has quickly emerged as its own discipline.
Early in 2005, scientists at University of Miami working on mangrove fisheries relationships felt that an international meeting dedicated to the topic of linkages among mangrove habitats, fishes, fisheries, and adjacent systems was long overdue. In April of 2006, the First International Symposium on Mangroves as Fish Habitat was held at the University of Miami. The proceedings of this first Mangroves as Fish Habitat symposium were published in a special issue of the Bulletin of Marine Science, which can be downloaded here.
Planning for the second symposium followed a few years later with scientists from Ecologists without Borders, American Fisheries Society and Fisheries Conservation Foundation, with the idea that by 2014, significant advances in knowledge would be gained in mangrove and fisheries research and conservation. The 2nd International Symposium on Mangroves as Fish Habitat was held in April 2014 in conjunction with the Annual Meetings of the Western Division and the Mexican Chapter of the American Fisheries Society and continued the goal from the first symposium to bring together scientists to exchange information and to discuss the greater threats and impacts to the mangrove ecosystem. The three-day event attracted over 150 scientists, managers, and students representing research from 13 nations.View the abstracts from the symposium here. Download the program and abstracts here (PDF).
The Symposium was organized around five major themes, each starting with a keynote speaker to lead off that session:
Role of Mangroves in Recreational Fishing: Keynote by Eric Carey, Bahamas National Trust
Ecology of Mangroves and Their Fisheries: Keynote by J. Eugenio Barrios, World Wildlife Fund, Mexico
Climate Change and the Mangrove Ecosystem: Keynote by Boone Kaufman, Oregon State University
Conservation and Restoration of Mangrove Ecosystems: Keynote by Francisco Flores Verdugo, Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México
Habitat Loss of Mangroves: Keynote by Stacey Lubin Gray, BEST Commission, Bahamas
The 2014 symposium was made possible by several key sponsors. We thank them for their dedication and support to make the symposium a success.