Mangrove Forests

Authored by: Ariel E. Lugo , Ernesto Medina

Encyclopedia of Natural Resources

Print publication date:  July  2014
Online publication date:  June  2014

Print ISBN: 9781439852583
eBook ISBN: 9781351043847
Adobe ISBN:


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The mangrove environment is not globally homogeneous, but involves many environmental gradients to which mangrove species must adapt and overcome to maintain the familiar structure and physiognomy associated with the mangrove ecosystem. The stature of mangroves, measured by tree height, decreases along the following environmental gradients from low to high salinity, low to high wind speed, high to low air temperature, high to low nutrient availability, and high to low rainfall. Litterfall, an indirect measure of mangrove productivity, decreases along the same environmental gradients. Mangrove stature is low at the two extremes of the inundation period (hydroperiod) and peaks at intermediate levels of inundation. The main factors that control mangrove structure and function are the latitudinal temperature gradient, regional presence/absence of hurricanes, nutritional status of mangrove substrates, and local salinity gradients.

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