Ecosystem Services Along Tropical Coasts and Their Sustainable Use

Abstract: A large part of the global human population lives along the marine coastlines and depends on marine resources, for example marine protein sources and protection from tsunamis and storm surges, while long-term subsidence and sea level rise add to the challenges. Coastal regions of the tropics host high marine biodiversity. At the same time, tropical coastlines face pronounced societal development. Continuously growing megacities increase the pressure on tropical coastal ecosystems. The influence of land use manifests in sedimentation processes, pollution, including plastic pollution, and nutrification. These interactions, in which humans are integral parts, require interdisciplinary and international cooperation. The needs towards coastal and marine sciences have changed dramatically in the face of the environmental and societal dynamics of the world. Specific research institutes such at the ZMT in Bremen (Leibniz Center for Tropical Marine Research) and networks address this complex field with translational approaches. Scientific collaboration provides the basis for jointly drafting sustainable steering mechanisms and use strategies for coastal seas and their resources that allow for the protection of these vulnerable ecosystems. Academic education and capacity development support the sustainable and trans-regional exchange and contribute to the social, political, and economic stability of the tropical developing countries.

Bio: Hildegard Westphal is a German geologist focusing on paleoecology, paleoclimatology and carbonate sedimentology. Her research work has taken her, inter alia, to Mauritania, the Galapagos Islands, French Polynesia and Tanzania. She is the Director of the Leibniz Centre for Tropical Marine Research (ZMT) in Germany. The ZMT is an interdisciplinary research institute investigating socio-ecological systems along tropical coastlines and providing a scientific basis for the protection and sustainable use of tropical coastal ecosystems. Hildegard Westphal holds a professorship in Geology of the Tropics at the University of Bremen.