Responses of the mangrove ecosystem to Holocene environmental change in the Sundarban Biosphere Reserve, India
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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