Royal Netherlands Institute for Sea Research
Royal Netherlands
Institute for Sea Research

Asian estuaries and coasts

The value and problems of Asian estuaries and coasts

Nurseries for commercially important species. Biodiversity. Eco-tourism. Seafood. The intake and storage of greenhouse gas CO2. Robust coastlines and flood defense. These are a number of the vital services provided by healthy estuarine and coastal ecosystems like mangroves, seagrass meadows and coral reefs. In Asia, the last decades of intensified economic activities and high population densities have gone hand in hand with major degradation and loss of these valuable ecosystems.

How fundamental research supports ecosystem management

Dealing with the threats to estuaries and coastlines, requires a clever mixture of measures to maintain existing ecosystems, mitigate threats and restore lost ecosystems. To succeed, management measures must be based on fundamental understanding of the processes affecting these ecosystems, answering questions such as:
-    What physical and biological mechanisms hamper the establishment and dispersal of the ecosystem?
-    What are the early warning signs of ecosystem loss?
-    What are the indicators of ecosystem resilience?
-    How to identify critical threshold values for state transitions? And how to translate these values into management objectives?
-    What restoration methods help to overcome critical thresholds for ecosystem establishment?

NIOZ involvement in Asian projects:

For several decades now, NIOZ has been involved in research projects in Asia, collaborating with partners in China, Indonesia, Singapore and Thailand, most notably on:
-    Demographic ecology of coastal-obligated long-distant migratory birds along the East Asian–Australasian Flyway, with an emphasis on the role of Yellow Sea coastal ecosystems.
-    Restoration of seagrass meadows, salt marsh, intertidal mudflats and mangroves in Asia, for the creating nature based flood defense and other ecosystem services.

Fieldwork in Chinese salt marshes

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Working on Java, Indonesia within the BioManCO project:

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Outreach activities: reports of fieldwork and related activities in China can be found here: Fundamental scientific research on mangrove establishment is currently translated in large-scale restoration techniques.

Eager to know more? Contact persons are prof. dr. Theunis Piersma (for migratory birds) or prof. dr. Tjeerd Bouma (for ecosystem restoration and nature based flood defense).

News and updates

Thursday 18 July 2019
Grote Kanoeten gebruiken andere 'tankstations' dan eerder gedacht
Geïnspireerd door het belang van de Europese Waddenzee voor trekvogels, heeft China vorige week onderdelen van haar eigen waddenzee – in de Gele Zee - succesvol genomineerd voor de Unesco Werelderfgoedstatus. Hiermee is de lijst beschermde gebieden…

Linked Projects

Applying nature-based coastal defence to the world’s largest urban area - from science to practice
Tjeerd Bouma
Netherlands Organization for Scientific Research
Project duration
1 Oct 2017 - 31 Dec 2021
BioManCO_Bio-morphodynamic modelling of mangrove-mud coasts
Tjeerd Bouma
Project duration
1 Jun 2016 - 31 May 2020

Linked publications

  • 2016
    Adhitya, A.; Folkard, A.M.; Govers, L.L.; van Katwijk, M.M.; de Iongh, H.H.; Herman, P.M.J.; Bouma, T.J. (2016). The exchange of dissolved nutrients between the water column and substrate pore-water due to hydrodynamic adjustment at seagrass meadow edges: a flume study. Limnol. Oceanogr. 61(6): 2286–2295.
    La Nafie, Y.A. (2016). Seagrass responses to interacting abiotic stresses. PhD Thesis. Radboud University: Nijmegen. ISBN 978-94-6233-228-7.
    Piersma, T.; Lok, T.; Chen, Y.; Hassell, C.J.; Yang, H.-Y.; Boyle, A.; Slaymaker, M.; Chan, Y.-C; Melville, D.S.; Zhang, Z.W.; Ma, Z. (2016). Simultaneous declines in summer survival of three shorebird species signals a flyway at risk. J. Appl. Ecol. 53: 479-490.
    Yang, H-Y; Chen, B.; Piersma, T.; Zhang, Z.; Ding, C. (2016). Molluscs of an intertidal soft-sediment area in China: Does overfishing explain a high density but low diversity community that benefits staging shorebirds? J. Sea Res. 109: 20-28.
  • 2014
    Christianen, M.J.A.; Herman, P.M.J.; Bouma, T.J.; vn Katwijk, M.M.; Lamers, L.P.M.; van der Heide, T.; Mumby, P.J.; Silliman, B.R.; Engelhard, S.L.; van de Kerk, M.V.; Kiswara, W.; van de Koppel, J. (2014). Habitat collapse due to overgrazing threatens turtle conservation in marine protected areas. Proc. - Royal Soc., Biol. Sci. 281(1777): 20132890.
    Gillis, L.G.; Bouma, T.J.; Jones, C.G.; van Katwijk, M.M.; Nagelkerken, I.; Jeuken, C.J.L.; Herman, P.; Ziegler, A.D. (2014). Potential for landscape-scale positive interactions among tropical marine ecosystems. Mar. Ecol. Prog. Ser. 503: 289-303.
    Ma, Z.; Melville, D.S.; Liu, J.; Chen, Y.; Yang, H.; Ren, W.; Zhang, Z.; Piersma, T.; Li, B. (2014). Rethinking China’s new great wall : Massive seawall construction in coastal wetlands threatens biodiversity. Science (Wash.) 346(6212): 912-914.
  • 2013
    Yang, H.-Y.; Ma, Z.-J.; Hua, N.; van Gils, J.A.; Zhang, Z.-W.; Piersma, T. (2013). Economic design in a long-distance migrating molluscivore: how fast-fuelling red knots in Bohai Bay, China, get away with small gizzards. J. Exp. Biol. 216(19): 3627-3636.