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QU launches new study on mangroves.

Qatar University has embarked on a follow-up study of 'Essential Ecological Processes and Ecosystem Functions in Arid Mangrove Plants' as the first part of the research project was completed.

The university was awarded a funding in the 7th Cycle of the National Priorities Research Programme (NPRP) by the Qatar National Research Fund (QNRF) for the present project.

This new collaborative project with Bangor University in the UK is being led by Dr Ibrahim al-Maslamani of Qatar University's Environmental Studies Centre. The first project has resulted in the publication of three papers so far and was led by Dr Lewis Le Vay from Bangor University.

The focus of the present study will be on coastal zone management and biodiversity conservation in Qatar and regionally as mangroves and sea grass habitats are essential in supporting coastal biodiversity, productivity and fishery in coastal waters and are vulnerable to development and pollution.

Despite their uniqueness as a result of the arid environment and lack of rainfall-mediated nutrient input, Arabian mangroves still remain the least studied. Basic questions regarding their ecological function remain unanswered and hamper their effective management.

The new study will build on previous results, developing an original and coherent body of work that will be a significant contribution to the understanding of mangroves in the environment and inform national and regional management of these important ecosystems.

"We will produce biological and oceanographic data and models to understand the processes underpinning the survival of Qatar mangroves and related biodiversity. This information is currently lacking, but essential for managing coastal development in the landscape surrounding mangroves. It is also of direct application to current mangrove replanting and transplanting efforts," Dr al-Maslamani said.

It is hoped that the project will contribute to the national strategic aims of understanding and protecting Qatar's marine resources and sustaining the environment for future generations. It will use a mixture of observational measurements to inform the development of realistic oceanographic models based on the hypothesis that mangrove productivity in Qatar is facilitated by an interaction of landscape morphology with tidal asymmetry that drives organic matter input.

The productivity of mangroves in such arid settings has not been quantified and there is no data yet to compare productivity within different rainfall regimes, creating an information gap that needs to be addressed to further understand the sources of primary production in arid mangrove-sea grass systems.

The new study will continue the collaboration with Bangor University, with multidisciplinary team led by Dr Le Vay and including biogeochemist Professor Hilary Kennedy, ecologists Dr Mark Walton, Dr Martin Skov and oceanographer Dr Peter Robins.

The project is part of a wider marine science collaboration between Qatar University and Bangor University under an agreement, promoting research co-operation and postgraduate training.

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Publication:Gulf Times (Doha, Qatar)
Geographic Code:7QATA
Date:Jan 8, 2015
Words:465
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