The impacts of mangrove range expansion on wetland ecosystem services in the southeastern United States: Current understanding, knowledge gaps, and emerging research needs. Academic Article uri icon


  • Climate change is transforming ecosystems and affecting ecosystem goods and services. Along the Gulf of Mexico and Atlantic coasts of the southeastern United States, the frequency and intensity of extreme freeze events greatly influence whether coastal wetlands are dominated by freeze-sensitive woody plants (mangrove forests) or freeze-tolerant grass-like plants (salt marshes). In response to warming winters, mangroves have been expanding and displacing salt marshes at varying degrees of severity in parts of north Florida, Louisiana, and Texas. As winter warming accelerates, mangrove range expansion is expected to increasingly modify wetland ecosystem structure and function. Because there are differences in the ecological and societal benefits that salt marshes and mangroves provide, coastal environmental managers are challenged to anticipate the effects of mangrove expansion on critical wetland ecosystem services, including those related to carbon sequestration, wildlife habitat, storm protection, erosion reduction, water purification, fisheries support, and recreation. Mangrove range expansion may also affect wetland stability in the face of extreme climatic events and rising sea levels. Here, we review the current understanding of the effects of mangrove range expansion and displacement of salt marshes on wetland ecosystem services in the southeastern United States. We also identify critical knowledge gaps and emerging research needs regarding the ecological and societal implications of salt marsh displacement by expanding mangrove forests. One consistent theme throughout our review is that there are ecological trade-offs for consideration by coastal managers. Mangrove expansion and marsh displacement can produce beneficial changes in some ecosystem services, while simultaneously producing detrimental changes in other services. Thus, there can be local-scale differences in perceptions of the impacts of mangrove expansion into salt marshes. For very specific local reasons, some individuals may see mangrove expansion as a positive change to be embraced, while others may see mangrove expansion as a negative change to be constrained.

published proceedings

  • Glob Chang Biol

altmetric score

  • 22.43

author list (cited authors)

  • Osland, M. J., Hughes, A. R., Armitage, A. R., Scyphers, S. B., Cebrian, J., Swinea, S. H., ... Bardou, R.

citation count

  • 16

complete list of authors

  • Osland, Michael J||Hughes, A Randall||Armitage, Anna R||Scyphers, Steven B||Cebrian, Just||Swinea, Savannah H||Shepard, Christine C||Allen, Micheal S||Feher, Laura C||Nelson, James A||O'Brien, Cherie L||Sanspree, Colt R||Smee, Delbert L||Snyder, Caitlin M||Stetter, Andrew P||Stevens, Philip W||Swanson, Kathleen M||Williams, Lauren H||Brush, Janell M||Marchionno, Joseph||Bardou, RĂ©mi

publication date

  • January 2022