Responses of the mangrove ecosystem to Holocene environmental change in the Sundarban Biosphere Reserve, India
More details
Hide details
Department of Botany, City College, Kolkata – 700 009, India
Georg-August-University of Göttingen, Albrecht-von-Haller-Institute for Plant Sciences, Department of Palynology and Climate Dynamics, Untere Karspüle 2, 37073 Göttingen, Germany
Online publication date: 2019-12-16
Publication date: 2019-12-16
Acta Palaeobotanica 2019; 59(2): 391–409
The Sundarban Mangrove Forest in the Sundarban Biosphere Reserve, located at the mouth of the Ganga–Brahmaputra Delta in India, is the most diverse mangrove ecosystem in the world. Sediment cores were taken from two widely separated islands in that reserve: Chamta (CMT) and Sudhyanyakhali (SDK). Pollen analysis and radiocarbon dating were used to study the Holocene development and dynamics of this unique ecosystem. Modern pollen rain study reveals a strong relation between modern pollen rain and the present vegetation, as well as a high rate of Phoenix palludosa pollen production.The pollen records indicate that mangrove existed at CMT from ~5960 and at SDK from ~1520 cal yr BP. Changes in relative sea level, including the frequency and intensity of inundation as well as fluctuating precipitation, have been the major factors along with geomorphic processes that control the development and dynamics of the mangrove in the area during the Holocene. The mid Holocene mangrove at CMT declined, to be progressively replaced by successive communities, and eventually reached climax stage, while the SDK site is transitional in nature. The mangrove responds rapidly to changes in environmental conditions at both locations. Because of large-scale anthropogenic interventions, it is unlikely that similar rapid responses will occur in the future
ALAM M. 1996. Subsidence of the Ganges – Brahmaputra Delta of Bangladesh and associated drainage, sedimentation and salinity: 169–192. In: Milliman J.D. & Haq B.U. (eds), Sea Level Rise and Coastal Subsidence: causes, consequences and strategies. Kluwer Academic Publishers, Dordrecht.
ALI S.N., DUBEY J., GHOSH R., QUAMAR M.F., SHARMA A., MORTHEKAI P., DIMRI A.P., SHEKHAR M., ARIF M. & AGARWAL S. 2018. High frequency abrupt shifts in the Indian summer monsoon since Younger Dryas in the Himalaya. Sci. Rep., 8: 9287. DOI: 10.1038/s41598-018-27597-6.
ALLISON M.A. 1998. Geologic framework and environmental status of the Ganges-Brahmaputra delta. J. Coast. Res., 14: 826–836.
ALONGI A.M. 2015. The Impact of Climate Change on Mangrove Forests. Curr. Clim. Change Rep., 1: 30–39. DOI: 10.1007/s40641-015-0002-x.
ANTHONY E.J. 2004. Sediment dynamics and morphological stability of estuarine mangrove swamps in Sherbro Bay, West Africa. Marine Geol., 208: 207–224.
BARIK J., MUKHOPADHYAY A., GHOSH T., MUKHOPADHYAY S.K., CHOWDHURY S.M. & HAZRA S. 2017. Mangrove species distribution and water salinity: an Indicator Species Approach to Sundarban. J. Coast. Conserv. DOI: 10.1007/s11852-017-0584-7.
BARUI N.C. 2011. Floral diversity of mangrove plants with reference to palaeoenvironment during Holocene in Bengal Basin, India. Quat. Int., 229: 89–93.
BEHLING H., COHEN M.C.L. & LARA R.J. 2001. Studies on Holocene mangrove ecosystem dynamics of the Braganca Peninsula in northeastern Para, Brazil. Palaeogeogr., Palaeoclimat., Palaeoecol., 167: 225–242.
BEHLING H., COHEN M.C.L. & LARA R.J. 2004. Late Holocene mangrove dynamics of the Marajo Island in Amazonia, northern Brazil. Veget. Hist. Archaeobot., 13: 73–80.
BIRKS H.J.B. 2012. Ecological palaeoecology and conservation biology: controversies, challenges, and compromises. Int. J. Biodiv. Sci., Ecosystem Services & Management, 8(4): 292–304. DOI:10.1080/21513732.2012.701667.
BLASCO F & AIZPURU F. 2002. Mangroves along the coastal stretch of the Bay of Bengal: present status. Indian J. Marine Sci., 31: 9–20.
BLASCO F., SAENGER P. & JANODET E. 1996. Mangroves as indicator of coastal change. Catena, 27: 167–178.
BROADUS J.M. 1996. Economising human responses to subsidence and rising sea level: 313–325. In: Milliman J.D. & Haq B.U. (eds), Sea level rise and coastal subsidence: causes, consequences and strategies. Kluwer Academic Publishers, Dordrecht.
CHANDA S. & DATTA S.C. 1986. Prospects and problems of a mangrove ecosystem in western Sundarbans (India). Transaction of the Bose Research Institute, 49: 47–57.
CHANDA S. & HAIT A.K. 1996. Aspects and appraisal of late Quaternary vegetation of lower Bengal Basin. Palaeobotanist, 45: 117–124.
CHANDA S., HAIT A.K., DAS H.K. & Roy A.K. 1999. Late Quaternary biostratigraphy and palaeoenvironment of Bengal Basin with special reference to pollen and micro faunal analysis. Gondwana Geology Magazine, 4: 265–279.
CHAUDHURI A.B. & CHOUDHURY A. 1994. Mangroves of the Sundarbans, IUCN – The World Conservation Union, Bangkok, Thailand, 1 (India).
CHOWDHURY A. & MAITI S.K. 2016. Assessing the ecological health risk in a conserved mangrove ecosystem due to heavy metal pollution: A case study from Sundarbans Biosphere Reserve, India. Hum. Eco. Risk Assess., 22(7): 1519–1541.
CLIFT P.D. & PLUMB A.R. 2008. The Asian Monsoon: Causes, History and Effects. London: Cambridge University Press.
DANDA A.A., JOSHI A.K., GHOSH A. & SAHA R. 2017. State of Art Report on Biodiversity in Indian Sundarbans. World Wide Fund for Nature-India, New Delhi.
DAS S. 2014. Palaeo-palynology of the late Quaternary peat deposit from lower Bengal Basin, India: A palaeoecological approach. Quat. Int., 325: 197–204. DOI:10.1016/j.quaint.2013.07.042.
DAS GUPTA S.P. 1975. Forest Types, Eastern India. National Atlas Organisation.
DEBNATH H.S. & NASKAR K.R. 1999. A comparative study on the mangroves and associated flora in the Ganga delta (Sunarbans) and Bay Islands (Andaman and Nicobar). In: Guha Bakshi D.N., Sanyal P. & Naskar K.R. (eds), Sundarbans Mangal, Naya Prokash, Calcutta.
DELFT HYDRAULICS. 1989. Criteria for Assessing Vulnerability to Sea-Level Rise: A Global Inventory to High Risk Areas. United Nations Environment Programme, Delft, The Netherlands.
DIETL G.P. & FLESSA K.W. 2009. Conservation Paleobiology: Using the past to manage for the future. Boulder (CO): The Paleontological Society Papers.
DIETL G.P. & FLESSA K.W. 2011. Conservation palaeobiology: putting the dead to work. Trends Ecol Evol. 26(1): 30–37. DOI:10.1016/j.tree.2010.09.010.
DONATO D., KAUFFMAN J.B. & MURDIYARSO D. 2011. Mangrove among the most carbon-rich forests in the tropics. Nat. Geosci., 4: 293–297.
DUKE N.C., BALL M.C. & ELLISON J.C. 1998. Factors influencing biodiversity and distributional gradients in mangroves. Global Ecology and Biogeography Letters, 7: 27–47.
DUTTA M.K., BIANCHI T.S. & MUKHOPADHYAY S. 2017. Mangrove Methane Biogeochemistry in the Indian Sundarbans: A Proposed Budget. Front. Mar. Sci., 4: 187. DOI:10.3389/fmars.2017.00187.
ELLISON J.C. 1994. Climate change and sea level rise impacts on mangrove ecosystems: 45–57. In: Pernetta J., Leemans R., Elder D. & Humphrey S., (eds), Impacts of Climate Change on Ecosystems and Species: Marine and Coastal Ecosystems, IUCN, Gland.
ELLISON J.C. 2005. Holocene palynology and sea-level change in two estuaries in southern Irian Jaya. Palaeogeogr., Palaeoclimat., Palaeoecol., 220: 291–309.
ELLISON J.C. 2008. Long-term retrospection on mangrove development using sediment cores and pollen analysis: A review. Aquatic Botany, 89: 93–104.
ELLISON J.C. 2015. Vulnerability assessment of mangroves to climate change and sea-level rise impacts. Wetlands Ecol Manag., 23: 115–137. DOI: 10.1007/s11273-014-9397-8.
ELLISON J.C. & STODDART D.R. 1991. Mangrove ecosystem collapse during predicted sea-level rise: Holocene analogues and implications. J. Coast.Res., 7(1):151–165.
ELLISON A.M., MUKHERJEE B.B. & KARIM A. 2000. Testing patterns of zonation in mangroves: scale dependence and environmental correlates in the Sundarbans of Bangladesh. J. Ecol., 88: 813–824.
ERDTMAN G. 1969. Handbook of Palynology. Munksgaard, Copenhagen.
FAEGRI K. & IVERSEN J. 1989. Textbook of Pollen Analysis. John Willey & Sons.
FLESSA K.W. & JACKSON S.T. 2005. The geological record of ecological dynamics: Understanding the basic effects of future environmental change. Washington (DC): National Research Council of the National Academies.
GHOSH A., SCHMIDT S., FICKERT T. & NUSSER M. 2015. The Indian Sundarban Mangrove Forests: History, Utilization, Conservation Strategies and Local Perception. Diversity, 7: 149–169. DOI: 10.3390/d7020149.
GHOSH M.K., KUMAR L. & ROY C. 2016. Mapping Long-Term Changes in Mangrove Species Composition and Distribution in the Sundarbans. Forests, 7(12): 305. DOI: 10.3390/f7120305.
GIRI S., MUKHOPADHYAY A., HAZRA S., MUK­HERJEE S., ROY D., GHOSH S., GHOSH T. & MITRA D. 2014. A study of abundance and distribution of mangrove species in Indian Sundarbans using remote sensing technique. J. Coast. Conserv., 18(2). DOI: 10.1007/s11852-014-0322-3.
GILMAN E.L., ELLISON J., DUKE N.C. & FIELD C. 2008. Threats to mangroves from climate change and adaptation options: A review. Aquatic Botany, 89: 237–250.
GOPAL B. & CHAUHAN M. 2006. Biodiversity and its conservation in the Sundarban Mangrove Ecosystem. Aquat. Sci., 68: 338–354.
GRIMM E.C. 1987. CONISS: a FORTRAN 77 program for stratigraphically constrained cluster analysis by the method of the incremental sum of squares. Comput. Geosci., 13: 13–35.
GRINDROD J., MOSS, P. & VAN DAR KAARS S. 2002. Late Quaternary mangrove pollen records from continental shelf and ocean cores in the North Australian–Indonesian region: 119–146. In: Kershaw P., David B., Tapper N., Penny D., & Brown J. (eds), Bridging Wallace’s line: the environmental and cultural history and dynamics of the S.E. Asian–Australian region. Catena, Reiskirchen.
GUPTA A.K., ANDERSON D.M., PANDEY D.N. & SINGHVI A.K. 2006. Adaptation and human migration, and evidence of agriculture coincident with changes in the Indian summer monsoon during the Holocene. Curr. Sci., 90: 1082–1090.
HAIT A.K. & BEHLING H. 2009. Holocene mangrove and coastal Environmental changes in the western Ganga – Brahmaputra delta, India. Veget. Hist. Archaeobot., 18: 159–169. DOI 10.1007/s00334-008-0203-5.
JACKSON S.T. & HOBBS R.J. 2009. Ecological restoration in the light of ecological history. Science, 325(5940): 567–569. DOI: 10.1126/science.1172977.
JELGERSMA S. 1994. Examples of the geological past: Evolution of the coastal sedimentation sequences during Holocene sea-level rise: 45–57. In: Pernetta J., Leemans R., Elder D. & Humphrey S. (eds), Impacts of Climate Change on Ecosystems and Species: Marine and Coastal Ecosystems. International Union for Conservation of Nature and Natural Resources, Gland, Switzerland.
JONSTONE I.M. 1983. Succession in zoned mangrove communities: where is the climax?: 131–139. In: Teas H.J. (ed.), Tasks for vegetation science, 18.
KRAUSS K.W., McKEE K.L., LOVELOCK C.E., CAHOON D.R., SAINTILAN N., REEF R & CHEN L. 2014. How mangrove forests adjust to rising sea level. New Phytologist, 202: 19–34. DOI: 10.1111/nph.12605.
LOVELOCK C.E., CAHOON D.R., FRIESS D.A., GUNTENSPERGEN G.R., KRAUSS K.W., REEF R., ROGERS K., SAUNDERS M.L., SIDIK F & SAINTILAN N. 2015. The vulnerability of indo-specific mangrove forests to sea-level rise. Nature, 526(7574): 559–563. DOI: 10.1038/nature15538. C.EH.
LUGO A.E. & SNEDAKER S.C. 1974. The ecology of mangroves. Annual Rev. Ecol. Syst., 5: 39–64.
MAJUMDAR N., CHOWDHURY C & JANA T.K. 2016. Variation of Carbon Sequestration in Relation to Leaf Level RNA: DNA in Sundarban Mangrove, India. Int. J. Marine Sci. Ocean. Technol. 3(4): 33–39. DOI: 10.19070/2577-4395-160006.
MANDAL R.N., SAENGER P., DAS C.V. & AZIZ A. 2019. Current Status of Mangrove Forests in the Trans-boundary Sundarbans: 95–132. In: Sen H.S. (ed.), The Sundarbans: A Disaster-Prone Eco-Region, Coastal Research Library, 30. DOI: 10.1007/978-3-030-00680-8_4.
MANNA S., KABERI C., BHATTACHARYA S & BHAT­TACHARYA B. 2010. Dynamics of Sundarban estuarine ecosystem: eutrophication induced threat to mangroves. Saline Systems, 6(1): 8. DOI: 10.1186/1746-1448-6-8. Blackwell Publishing Ltd.
MCKEE K.L., CAHOON D.R & FELLER I.C. 2007. Caribbean mangroves adjust to rising sea level through biotic controls on change in soil elevation. Global Ecol. Biogeogr., 16: 545–556.
MILLIMAN J.D., BRODUS J.M & GABLE F. 1989. Environmental and economic implications of rising sea-level and subsiding deltas: The Nile and Bengal examples. Ambio, 18(60): 340–345.
MISHRA A.K., BHATTACHARYA G., SARKAR A. & SEN P.K. 2016. Early Holocene Peat Formation and its implication for depositional environment around Taldi, Lower Bengal Basin, West Bengal. India. Indian J. Geosci., 70(1): 69–78.
NASKAR K.R. & GUHA BAKSHI D.N. 1987. Mangrove swamps of the Sundarbans – An Ecological Perspective. Naya Prokash, Calcutta, India.
NASKAR K.R. & GUHA BAKSHI D.N. 1989. Stages of land formation and comparative studies of the different micro ecological zones of Sundarbans (West Bengal, India). Fragm. Florist. et Geobot., Ann.XXXIV (3–4): 341–354.
NASKAR K.R. & MANDAL R.N. 1999. Ecology and Biodiversity of Indian Mangroves. Naya Prokash, Calcutta, India.
NAZRUL-ISLAM A.K.M. 1993. Environment and vegetation of mangroves: 81–88. In: Lieth H. & Al Masoom A. (eds), Towards the rational use of high salinity tolerant plants. The Kluwer Academic Publishers, Dordrecht.
PANDEY S. & HOLT K. 2017. Modern Pollen distribution and its relationship to vegetation from the south-western part of the Ganges-Brahmaputra Delta, India. Palynology, 1: 20–27. DOI:10.1080/01916122.2017.1298541.
PANDEY S. & MINCKLEY T.A. 2018. Modern Pollen-Vegetation studies from the Sajnekhali Island Wildlife Sanctuary, Sundarbans, Eastern India. Palynology, 43(2): 213–222. DOI: 10.1080/01916122.2018.1451786.
PAUL A.K. 1987a. Morpho-Ecological Variations in the Sundarban Mudflats. Geogr. Rev. India, 49(1): 1–14.
PAUL A.K. 1987b. Sundarban Mangrove Environment. Indian Journal of Landscape Systems and Ecological Studies, 10(2): 53–64.
PAUL A.K. 1996. Degradation of coastal vegetations in West Bengal. Indian Journal of Landscape systems and Ecological Studies, 19(1): 39–50.
RAMANATHAN A.L., RAJKUMAR K., MAJUMDAR J.,SINGH S., BEHERA P.N., SANTRA S.C. & CHIDAMBARAM S. 2009. Textural characteristics of the surface sediments of a tropical mangrove Sundarban ecosystem, India. J. Marine Sci., 38(4): 397–403.
RAHA A., DAS S., BANERJEE K. & MITRA A. 2012. Climate change impacts on Indian Sundarbans: A Time series analysis (1924–2008). Biodiv. Conserv., 20(1). DOI: 10.1007/s1053-012-0260-z.
RAJU A.J.S., RAO P.V.S., KUMAR R. & MOHAN S.R. 2012. Pollination biology of the crypto-viviparous Avicennia species (Avicenniaceae). J. Threat. Taxa, 4(15): 3377–3389.
RAO T.A. & SASTRY A.R.K. 1974. An ecological approach towards classification of coastal vegetation. Indian Forester, 100: 438–452.
SAHA S.K., ROY K., BANERJEE P., MAMUN A.A., RAHMAN M.A. & GHOSH G.C. 2005. Technological and environmental impact assessment on possible oil and gas exploration at the Sundarbans coastal region. Int. J. Ecol. Environ. Sci., 31: 255–264.
SANTRA S.C. 1994. Ecology of Hooghly Estuary, West Bengal (India). In: Kargupta A.N. & Siddiqui E.N. (eds), Algal Ecology. International Book ­Distribution.
SANYAL P. & BALL A.K. 1986. Some observations on abnormal adaptations of mangrove in Indian Sundarbans. Journal of Indian Society of Coastal Agricultural Research, 4(1): 9–15.
SANYAL P. 1990. Ecological problems of sundarbans mangrove. In: Proceeding of the workshop on Wasteland Development Programme, Jadavpur University, Calcutta, India.
SANYAL P. 1996. Sundarbans, the largest mangrove diversity on globe: Proceeding of the William Roxburgh Memorial Seminar on Sundarbans Mangals. Calcutta Wildlife Society, 11–15.
SANYAL P. 2001a. Mangal diversity in Indian Sundarbans. Banabithi, 2: 11–18.
SANYAL P. 2001b. Effect of global climate change on Sundarban. Banabithi, 2: 5–8.
SARKAR A. & SEN P. 2019. Lower Bengal basin, India witnessing sea level change and coastline during Holocene. Journal of Emerging Technologies and Innovative Research (JETIR), 6(2): 396–423.
SARKAR A., SENGUPTA S., McARTHUR J.M., RAVENSCROFT P., BERA M.K., BHUSAN RAVI., SAMANTA A. & AGRAWAL S. 2009. Evolution of Ganges–Brahmaputra western delta plain: clues from sedimentology and carbon isotopes. Quat. Sci. Rev., 28: 2564–2581.
SEN P.K. & BANERJEE M. 1990. Palyno-plankton stratigraphy and environmental changes during the Holocene in the Bengal Basin, India. Rev. Palaeobot. Palynol., 65: 25–35.
SETYANINGSIH C.A., BIAGIONI S., SAAD A., KASHIMA K., SABIHAM S. & BEHLING H. 2019. Response of Mangroves to Late Holocene Sea-Level Change: Palaeoecological Evidence from Sumatra, Indonesia. Wetlands and Climate Change. DOI: 10.1007/s13157-019-01142-1.
SHAH R.A., LONE A., ACHYUTHAN H. & ALI A. 2017. Reconstruction of the Indian summer monsoon fluctuations since the early Holocene using lake and ocean sediment cores from southern India: Extreme events and palaeoenvironment: 111–117. In: Deo S.G., Baptista A. & Joglekar J. (eds), Rethinking the Past: A Tribute to Professor V.N. Misra, ISBN: 978-81-908330-6-6.
SINGHVI, A.K., BHATT N., GLENNIE K.W & SRIVASTAVA P. 2012. India, Arabia and adjacent regions: 151–206. In: Metcalfe S.E & Nash D.J. (eds) Quaternary Environmental Change in the Tropics, New York: Wiley.
SIKDAR P.K. & HAIT A.K. 1997. Environmental risk analysis of industrialization in the coastal zone of West Bengal: Sea Explorer, 4:18–29.
SIKDAR P.K., MITRA A., BANERJEE J. & HAIT A.K. 1998. Effects of industrialization and urbanization on ambient air in and around Sundarban Biosphere Reserve, West Bengal, India. Journal of Environmental Studies and Policy, 1(1): 45–53.
STANLEY D.J & HAIT A.K. 2000a. Holocene depositional patterns, Neotectonics and Sundarban mangroves in the western Ganges–Brahmaputra Delta. J. Coast. Res., 16(1): 26–39.
STANLEY D.J & HAIT A.K. 2000b. Deltas, radiocarbon dating, and measurements of sediment storage and subsidence. Geology, 28(4): 295–298.
STANLEY D.J., HAIT A.K. & JORSTAD T. 2000. Iron – stained quartz to distinguish Holocene deltaic from Pleistocene alluvial deposits in small core samples. J. Coast. Res., 16(2): 357–367.
THAMBAN G., KAWAHATA H. & RAO V.P. 2007. Indian Summer Monsoon Variability during the Holocene as Recorded in Sediments of the Arabian Sea: Timing and Implications. J. Oceanogr., 63: 1009–1020.
THANIKAIMONI G. 1987. Mangrove Palynology: UNDP / UNESCO Regional Project on Training and Research on Mangrove Ecosystems, RAS/79/002, and the French Institute, Pondicherry.
TOMLINSON P.B. 1986. The Botany of Mangroves. Cambridge University Press, USA.
UNTAWALE A.G. 1987. Country status – India. In: Umali R.M., Zamora P.M., Gotera R.R., Jara R.S., Camacho A.S. & Vannucci M. (eds), Mangroves of Asia and the Pacific: Status and Management: Technical Report of the UNDP/UNESCO Research and Training Pilot Programme, Ministry of Natural Resources, Quezon City, Metro Manila, ­Philippines.
URREGO L.E., GONZALEZ C., URAN G. & POLANIA J. 2010. Modern pollen rain in mangroves from San Andres Island, Colombian Caribbean. Rev. Palaeobot. Palynol., 162: 168–182.
WARD R.D., FRIESS D.A., DAY R.H & MACKENZIE R.A. 2016. Impacts of climate change on mangrove ecosystems:a region by region overview. Ecosystem Health and Sustainability, 2(4):e01211. DOI:10.1002/ehs2.1211.
WENINGER B., JORIS O. & DANZEGLOCKE U. 2004. Cal Pal – the Cologne radiocarbon CALibration and Palaeoclimate research package, URL:
WILLIS K.J. & BIRKS H.J.B. 2006. What is natural? The need for a long-term perspective in biodiversity conservation. Science, 314(5803): 1261–1265.
WILLIS K.J., BAILEY R.M., BHAGWAT S.A. & BIRKS H.J.B. 2010. Biodiversity baselines, thresholds, and resilience:testing predictions assumption using palaeoecological data. Trends Ecol Evol., 25(10): 583–591. DOI:10.1016/j.tree.2010.07.006.
WOODROFFE C.D. 1990. The impact of sea-level rise on mangrove shorelines. Prog. Phys. Geogr., 14: 483–520.
ZAMAN S., BHATTACHARYA S.B., PRAMANICK P., RAHA A.K., CHAKRABORTY S & MITRA A. 2013. Rising water salinity: A threat to mangroves of Indian Sundarbans: 167–183. In: Abedin M.A., Habiba U. & Shaw R., (eds), Water Insecurity: A Social Dilemma. Emerald Group Publishing Limited: Bingley, UK.
Spatial Variation of Heavy Metal Accumulation in the Sediments Adjacent to Different Mangrove Plant Species within a Mixed Mangrove Stand
Abhra Chanda, Shresthashree Swain, Sourav Das, Anushka Seal, Tuhin Ghosh, Sugata Hazra
Soil and Sediment Contamination: An International Journal