Toggle Main Menu Toggle Search

Open Access padlockePrints

Understanding the consequences of sea level rise: the ecological implications of losing intertidal habitat

Lookup NU author(s): Dr Fabrice StephensonORCiD


Full text for this publication is not currently held within this repository. Alternative links are provided below where available.


© 2022 The Royal Society of New Zealand.Sea level rise (SLR) has been described as one of the greatest potential causes of ecosystem disruption, putting many coastal areas at risk of irreversible changes. However, the loss of intertidal areas from SLR and the associated ecological and social repercussions receive little attention. Within estuaries, extensive intertidal areas harbour a variety of habitats and communities and represent hotspots of ecosystem functions. Any changes to their distribution or extent are likely to have far reaching implications. Here we summarise the ecological consequences of a reduction in intertidal area from increasing SLR, and the implications for people, management and planning. To facilitate this discussion, changes in the occurrence and abundance of two ecologically and culturally important intertidal shellfish species (Austrovenus stutchburyi and Macomona liliana) were modelled under different SLR scenarios for Tauranga Harbour, Aotearoa New Zealand. We highlight how the squeezing of intertidal areas will likely alter the distribution and extent of key habitats and communities, and discuss the implications for coastal food webs, ecosystem functioning and service provision. Pre-emptive planning and adaptive management are needed that incorporate ecological losses in risk assessments and focuses on pro-active solutions to increase resilience to the effects of SLR.

Publication metadata

Author(s): Rullens V, Mangan S, Stephenson F, Clark DE, Bulmer RH, Berthelsen A, Crawshaw J, Gladstone-Gallagher RV, Thomas S, Ellis JI, Pilditch CA

Publication type: Article

Publication status: Published

Journal: New Zealand Journal of Marine and Freshwater Research

Year: 2022

Volume: 56

Issue: 3

Pages: 353-370

Online publication date: 16/06/2022

Acceptance date: 02/06/2022

ISSN (print): 0028-8330

ISSN (electronic): 1175-8805

Publisher: Taylor and Francis Ltd.


DOI: 10.1080/00288330.2022.2086587


Altmetrics provided by Altmetric