, Volume 3, Issue 3, pp 205-216

Mangroves impacted by human-induced disturbances: A case study of the Orinoco Delta mangrove ecosystem

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Abstract

Mangroves represent a typical ecosystem found along many tropical coasts and estuaries. They are of exceptional biological importance. As a nutrient filter and synthesizer of organic matter, mangroves create a living buffer between land and sea. Highly dependent upon the inorganic nutrients contributed by rivers, they play a primary role in supporting the productivity of the associated marine environment.

Based upon the description of the peculiar physiographic features of the Orinoco Delta, which have allowed the development of extensive mangroves, and upon a discussion of ecological factors that are crucial to the development of estuarine mangroves in general, this paper offers an explanation for the disturbances observed in this ecosystem. These disturbances apparently result from regional developments of agriculture and forestry. Those developments have involved the construction of significant works to regulate the hydrologic-fluvial systems.

There is an urgent need to develop environmental control programs in the Delta, in order to prevent progressive deterioration of the structure and regulatory functions of the fragile deltaic mangrove ecosystem. Similar pressures exist elsewhere in the world.