On the ecogeomorphological feedbacks that control tidal channel network evolution in a sandy mangrove setting
An ecomorphodynamic model was developed to study how Avicennia marina mangroves influence channel network evolution in sandy tidal embayments. The model accounts for the effects of mangrove trees on tidal flow patterns and sediment dynamics. Mangrove growth is in turn controlled by hydrodynamic conditions. The presence of mangroves was found to enhance the initiation and branching of tidal channels, partly because the extra flow resistance in mangrove forests favours flow concentration, and thus sediment erosion in between vegetated areas. The enhanced branching of channels is also the result of a vegetation-induced increase in erosion threshold. On the other hand, this reduction in bed erodibility, together with the soil expansion driven by organic matter production, reduces the landward expansion of channels. The ongoing accretion in mangrove forests ultimately drives a reduction in tidal prism and an overall retreat of the channel network.