As human activities have expanded across the global landscape and changed the conditions that affect the functioning of the biota, many have come to describe a new geologic era being referred to as the Anthropocene. As conditions change, ecosystems are affected in new and unforseen ways. For mangroves, this means coping with sea level rise, atmospheric warming, changes in atmospheric gas composition, changes in the frequency and intensity of atmospheric events and in hydrological conditions, and loss of cover as a result of urbanization, agriculture, and other land use changes.
Building on more than 40 years of mangrove research, Forest Service scientists, in collaboration with scientists from the Instituto Venezolano de Investigaciones Científicas, considered mangrove ecophysiology and tree functioning, mangrove responses to global change, and policies and institutions that affect mangroves at local to global scales to provide a better understanding of the issues and opportunities for mangrove conservation in the 21st century. They note that mangrove composition is changing with the movement of mangroves species across continental barriers as a result of human activity, and that these trends will lead to novel mangrove forests and in some cases expand the range of mangroves worldwide. Preserving mangroves in the Anthropocene will not be achieved by isolating mangroves from people, but rather by regulating interactions between mangroves and humans through effective management based on sound science that goes beyond the traditional scope of ecological analyses to include the social forces converging on mangroves. Increased collaboration between governments, non-governmental organizations, and communities that depend on mangroves for their livelihood will be critical for the conservation of mangroves in the Anthropocene.