The Sundarbans mangrove ecosystem, shared by India and Bangladesh, is recognized as a global priority for biodiversity conservation. Sea level rise, due to climate change, threatens the long term persistence of the Sundarbans forests and its biodiversity. Among the forests’ biota is the only tiger (Panthera tigris) population in the world adapted for life in mangrove forests. Prior predictions on the impacts of sea level rise on the Sundarbans have been hampered by coarse elevation data in this low-lying region, where every centimeter counts. Using high resolution elevation data, we estimate that with a 28 cm rise above 2000 sea levels, remaining tiger habitat in Bangladesh’s Sundarbans would decline by 96% and the number of breeding individuals would be reduced to less than 20. Assuming current sea level rise predictions and local conditions do not change, a 28 cm sea level rise is likely to occur in the next 50–90 years. If actions to both limit green house gas emissions and increase resilience of the Sundarbans are not initiated soon, the tigers of the Sundarbans may join the Arctic’s polar bears (Ursus maritimus) as early victims of climate change-induced habitat loss.
This is a preview of subscription content, access via your institution.
Buy single article
Instant access to the full article PDF.
Tax calculation will be finalised during checkout.
Subscribe to journal
Immediate online access to all issues from 2019. Subscription will auto renew annually.
Tax calculation will be finalised during checkout.
Agrawala S, Ota T, Ahmed AU, Smith J, Aalst MV (2003) Development and climate change in Bangladesh: focus on coastal flooding and the Sundarbans. Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), Paris
Alam M (2003) Bangladesh country case study. National Adaptation Programme of Action (NAPA) Workshop, Bhutan, pp 9–11
Alley RB, Berntsen T, Bindoff NL, Chen Z, Chidthaisong A, Friedlingstein P, Gregory J, Hegerl G, Heimann M, Hewitson B, Hoskins BJ, Joos F, Jouzel J, Kattsov V, Lohmann U, Manning M, Matsuno T, Molina M, Nicholls N, Overpeck J, Qin D, Raga G, Ramaswamy V, Ren J, Rusticucci M, Solomon S, Somerville R, Stocker TF, Stott PA, Stouffer RJ, Whetton P, Wood RA, Arblaster DWJ, Brasseur G, Christensen JH, Denman KL, Fahey DW, Forster P, Jansen E, Jones PD, Knutti R, Le Treut H, Lemke P, Meehl G, Mote P, Randall D, Stone DA, Trenberth KE, Willebrand J, Zwiers F (2007) Contribution of working group I to the fourth assessment report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change: summary for policymakers. IPCC Secretariat, Geneva
Barlow ACD, Ahmed MIU, Rahman MM, Howlader A, Smith AC Smith JLD (2008) Linking monitoring and intervention for improved management of tigers in the Sundarbans of Bangladesh. Biol Conserv 141:2032–2040
Bindoff NL, Willebrand J, Artale V, Cazenave A, Gregory J, Gulev S, Hanawa K, Le Quéré C, Levitus S, Nojiri Y, Shum CK, Talley LD, Unnikrishnan A (2007) Observations: oceanic climate change and sea level. Contribution of working group I to the fourth assessment report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. Cambridge University Press, Cambridge
Biswas SR, Mallick AU, Choudhury JK, Nishat A (2008) A unified framework for the restoration of Southeast Asian mangroves-bridging ecology, society and economics. Wetlands Ecol Manag 17:365–383
Broadus JM (1993) Possible impacts of, and adjustment to, sea level rise: the cases of Bangladesh and Egypt. In: Warrick RA, Barrow EM, Wighley ML (eds) Climate and sea level change: observation, projection and implication. Cambridge University Press, Cambridge, pp 263–275
Canonizado JA, Hossain MA (1998) Integrated forest management plan for the Sundarbans reserved forest. Mandala Agricultural Development Corporation and Ministry of Environment and Forest, Dhaka, Bangladesh
Chapron G, Miquelle DG, Lambert A, Goodrich JM, Legrandre S, Clobert J (2008) The impact on tigers of poaching versus prey depletion. J Appl Ecol 45:1667–1674
Dasgupta S, Laplante B, Meisner C, Wheeler D, Yan D (2007) The impact of sea level rise on developing countries: a comparative analysis. World Bank Policy Research Working Paper No. 4136. http://ssrn.com/abstract=962790. Accessed 27 July 2009
Dinerstein E, Loucks C, Wikramanayake E, Ginsberg J, Sanderson E, Seidensticker J, Forrest J, Bryja G, Heydlauff A, Klenzendorf S, Leimgruber P, Mills J, O’Brien TG, Shrestha M, Simons R, Songer M (2007) The fate of wild tigers. Bioscience 57:508–514
Field CD (1995) Impacts of expected climate change on mangroves. Hydrobiology 295:75–81
Gopal B, Chauhan M (2006) Biodiversity and its conservation in the Sundarban mangrove. Ecosyst Aquat Sci 68:338–354
Government of Bangladesh (1993) Assessment of the vulnerability of coastal areas to sea level rise and other effects of global climate change. Department of the Environment, Dhaka
Government of Bangladesh (2005) National adaptation program of action. Ministry of Environment and Forest, Dhaka, Bangladesh
Government of Bangladesh (2008) Bangladesh climate change strategy and action plan 2008. Ministry of Environment and Forests, Dhaka
Hansen JE (2007) Scientific reticence and sea level rise. Environ Res Lett 2:024002
Iftekhar MS, Islam MR (2004) Managing mangroves in Bangladesh: a strategy analysis. J Coast Conserv 10:139–146
Inman M (2009) Where warming hits hard. Nature 3:18–21
Islam MS, Haque M (2004) The mangrove-based coastal and near shore fisheries of Bangladesh: ecology, exploitation and management. Rev Fish Biol Fish 14:153–180
IUCN (2008) Panthera tigris. http://www.iucnredlist.org/details/15955. Accessed 27 July 2009
Kenny JS, Smith JLD, Starfield AM, McDougal C (1995) The long-term effects of tiger poaching on population viability. Conserv Biol 9:1127–1133
Ko JY, Day JW (2004) A review of ecological impacts of oil and gas development on coastal ecosystems in the Mississippi Delta. Ocean Coast Manag 4711–12:597–624
McLeod E, Salm RV (2006) Managing mangroves for resilience to climate change. IUCN, Gland
Morton RA, Buster N, Krohn MD (2002) Subsurface controls on historical subsidence rates and associated wetland loss in southcentral Louisiana. Gulf Coast Assoc Geol Soc 52:767–778
Pfeffer WT, Harper JT, O’Neel S (2008) Kinematic constraints on glacier contributions to 21st-century sea-level rise. Science 321:1340–1343
Rahmstorf S (2007) A semi-empirical approach to projecting future sea-level rise. Science 315:368–370
Sanderson E, Forrest J, Loucks C, Ginsberg J, Dinerstein E, Seidensticker J, Leimgruber P, Songer M, Heydlauff A, O’Brien T, Bryja G, Klenzendorf S, Wikramanayake E (2006). Setting priorities for the conservation and recovery of wild tigers: 2005–2015. WCS, WWF, Smithsonian, NFWF-STF, New York, Washington
Sarwar MGM (2005) Impacts of sea level rise on the coastal zone of Bangladesh. Master’s thesis, Lund University, Sweden
SMRC (2003) The vulnerability assessment of the SAARC Coastal Region due to sea level rise: Bangladesh case study. SAARC Meteorological Research Center, Dhaka
World Bank (2000) Bangladesh: climate change and sustainable development. Rural Development Unit, South Asia Region, Dhaka
Electronic Supplementary Material
Below is the link to the electronic supplementary material.
(DOC 504 KB)
About this article
Cite this article
Loucks, C., Barber-Meyer, S., Hossain, M.A.A. et al. Sea level rise and tigers: predicted impacts to Bangladesh’s Sundarbans mangroves. Climatic Change 98, 291 (2010). https://doi.org/10.1007/s10584-009-9761-5
- Tidal Gauge Record
- Tiger Population
- Ursus Maritimus
- Tiger Habitat
- Sundarbans Forest