Article

Mangroves and Salt Marshes

, Volume 1, Issue 2, pp 103-111

First online:

Effects of tidal inundation and predation on Avicennia germinans seedling establishment and survival in a sub-tropical mangal/salt marsh community

  • Stuart PattersonAffiliated withWetland Biogeochemistry Institute, Center for Coastal, Energy and Environmental Resources, Louisiana State University
  • , Karen L. McKeeAffiliated withWetland Biogeochemistry Institute, Center for Coastal, Energy and Environmental Resources, Louisiana State University
  • , Irving A. MendelssohnAffiliated withWetland Biogeochemistry Institute, Center for Coastal, Energy and Environmental Resources, Louisiana State University

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Abstract

The black mangrove, Avicennia germinans, occurs sympatric withSpartina alterniflora in coastal Louisiana. Zonation exists alongan elevational gradient with A. germinans dominant at higherelevation creekbanks and S. alterniflora at interior, lowerelevation sites with greater depth and duration of flooding.Establishment of A. germinans seedlings was examined in cagesthat excluded predators and limited horizontal, but not vertical,movement of propagules by the tides and showed that blackmangrove could readily establish in the Spartina zone. Survivalof A. germinans seedlings after one year in cages was notsignificantly different between the two zones, and seedlings weresignificantly taller in the Spartina zone. Thus, neitherinundation per se nor other abiotic factors alone could accountfor the absence of A. germinans in the interior marsh. Althoughpropagules were dispersed into both zones, a net removal ofuncaged propagules from plots in the Spartina zone (–1.3 ± 0.6m-2 d-1) compared to a net addition to plots in the Avicennia zone (+0.5 ± 0.4 m-2d-1) indicated that retention of propagulesdiffered between zones. Causes of mortality were decay (Spartina> Avicennia zone), desiccation (Avicennia > Spartina zone), andpredation (Spartina > Avicennia zone). Although few propaguleswere completely consumed by predators (snails and crabs), damageto the cotyledons promoted decay. The results suggest that tidalaction limits retention and settlement of A. germinans propagulesin the Spartina zone, and a combination of predator damage andfrequent flooding leads to rapid decay of propagules that strandthere.

dispersal ecotone intertidal zone mangrove propagule wetland