The Role of Vegetated Coastal Wetlands for Marine Megafauna Conservation

Trends Ecol Evol. 2019 Sep;34(9):807-817. doi: 10.1016/j.tree.2019.04.004. Epub 2019 May 21.


Habitat loss is accelerating a global extinction crisis. Conservation requires understanding links between species and habitats. Emerging research is revealing important associations between vegetated coastal wetlands and marine megafauna, such as cetaceans, sea turtles, and sharks. But these links have not been reviewed and the importance of these globally declining habitats is undervalued. Here, we identify associations for 102 marine megafauna species that utilize these habitats, increasing the number of species with associations based on current International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN) species assessments by 59% to 174, accounting for over 13% of all marine megafauna. We conclude that coastal wetlands require greater protection to support marine megafauna, and present a simple, effective framework to improve the inclusion of habitat associations within species assessments.

Keywords: dolphin; elasmobranch; habitat use; mangroves; seagrass; sirenian.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Conservation of Natural Resources
  • Ecosystem*
  • Wetlands*