Estuaries and Coasts

, Volume 34, Issue 1, pp 32-44

First online:

Patterns of Mangrove Wood and Litter Production Within a Beach Ridge-Fringing Reef Embayment, Northern Great Barrier Reef Coast

  • Daniel M. AlongiAffiliated withAustralian Institute of Marine Science Email author 

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Mortality, litter fall, and patterns of stem growth were examined in Rhizophora- and Ceriops-dominated forests located upstream and downstream in four tidally dominated creeks within a beach reef embayment on the northern Great Barrier Reef coast. Although patterns of stem densities, basal area, and diameter-at-breast height (DBH) between upstream–downstream sites and creeks were inconsistent, aboveground biomass, wood production, litter fall, and aboveground net primary productivity (ANPP) were greater in the Rhizophora-dominated forests. Incremental growth of stems (SI, cm year−1) was slow compared to other mangroves, declining among species as follows: Rhizophora stylosa (mean = 0.080) > Bruguiera exaristata (0.066) = Xylocarpus australasicus (0.064) = Ceriops australis (0.056); SI was greater upstream than downstream, possibly due to nutrient inputs from upland sugarcane cultivation. The DBH of dead trees were less than the DBH of live trees, suggesting natural mortality, which was greatest for X. australasicus (annual rate = 3.27%), followed by B. exaristata (0.84%), C. australis (0.48%), and R. stylosa (0.33%). Rates of litter fall were seasonal and equivalent to those measured in other mangroves, but rates of ANPP were, on average, low in most plots. Salinity was likely the main factor limiting growth as correlations of salinity with tree growth and production were negative. Nutrients may have also played a key regulatory role, with positive correlations between mangrove production and N and P content of soils and leaves and the comparatively low nutrient content of these sandy soils. The low ratio of wood to litter production suggests that these forests are in a mature stage of development.


Litter fall Mangrove Nutrient Salinity Stem growth Wood production