, Volume 11, Issue 2, pp 342-354

Soil Respiration and Belowground Carbon Allocation in Mangrove Forests

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Abstract

Mangrove forests cover large areas of tropical and subtropical coastlines. They provide a wide range of ecosystem services that includes carbon storage in above- and below ground biomass and in soils. Carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions from soil, or soil respiration is important in the global carbon budget and is sensitive to increasing global temperature. To understand the magnitude of mangrove soil respiration and the influence of forest structure and temperature on the variation in mangrove soil respiration I assessed soil respiration at eleven mangrove sites, ranging from latitude 27°N to 37°S. Mangrove soil respiration was similar to those observed for terrestrial forest soils. Soil respiration was correlated with leaf area index (LAI) and aboveground net primary production (litterfall), which should aid scaling up to regional and global estimates of soil respiration. Using a carbon balance model, total belowground carbon allocation (TBCA) per unit litterfall was similar in tall mangrove forests as observed in terrestrial forests, but in scrub mangrove forests TBCA per unit litter fall was greater than in terrestrial forests, suggesting mangroves allocate a large proportion of their fixed carbon below ground under unfavorable environmental conditions. The response of soil respiration to soil temperature was not a linear function of temperature. At temperatures below 26°C Q10 of mangrove soil respiration was 2.6, similar to that reported for terrestrial forest soils. However in scrub forests soil respiration declined with increasing soil temperature, largely because of reduced canopy cover and enhanced activity of photosynthetic benthic microbial communities.