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Holocene mangrove dynamics and sea level changes in Makoba Bay, Zanzibar

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Publication details

JournalPalaeogeography palaeoclimatology palaeoecology
DatePublished - Jun 2012
Number of pages14
Pages (from-to)54-67
Original languageEnglish


Pollen and charcoal analyses, set within a chronology provided by 11 radiocarbon dates on sediment cores retrieved across an altitudinal transect in Makoba Bay, Zanzibar, Tanzania are used to reconstruct Holocene mangrove ecosystem dynamics. Using the changing ratio of the key mangrove taxa Sonneratia/(Bruguiera/Ceriops) (S/BC) past sea level changes are determined . The interpretation of the pollen record is guided by an initial assessment of modern pollen-vegetation relationships. Mangrove communities in Makoba Bay are recorded from at least the early Holocene in what was a similar environment to the present day, inundated by normal to medium high tides. Mangroves retreated landward, probably related to a sea level rise from about 7700 to 4160 cal. yrs BP which allowed the locations of the seaward and central cores to become a lower intertidal mangrove area. From about 4160 cal. yrs BP to 1450-1550 cal. yrs BP, a lower sea level occurred and the resultant mangrove community retreated seaward. After 1450-1550 cal. yrs BP, sea level rose again and was characterised by greater inundation frequency causing mangroves to shift landward until around 850 cal. yrs BP. Towards the present day, sea level gradually fell until reaching the present sea level. The recent decrease of mangrove species, Rhizophora mucronata, may result from increasing anthropogenic influences in Zanbibar during the last centuries as indicated by an increase in charcoal.

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