Aquatic Sciences

, 81:4 | Cite as

Diversity of benthic macrofauna and physical parameters of sediments in natural mangroves and in afforested mangroves three decades after compensatory planting

  • Jassim A. Al-KhayatEmail author
  • Maryam A. Abdulla
  • Juha M. Alatalo
Research Article


Mangroves in the Arabian Gulf are under pressure from land use change, leading to compensatory planting at sites without natural mangroves. In this study, we examine the potential long-term success of this form of afforestation of mangroves as a conservation measure supporting biodiversity. We compared the community of benthic macrofauna (in total 13,522 individuals from 75 species) and physical parameters at 15 sampling points in five afforested mangrove communities and 19 stations in four natural mangrove communities in Qatar. Three decades after afforestation, there were no significant differences between the benthic macrofauna in natural and afforested mangroves as regards total abundance, species richness, Shannon’s diversity, effective number of species, or evenness. Only species richness of Crustacea was significantly higher in natural mangroves. Total organic carbon (TOC), sand, and clay content did not differ. This contradicts findings at the same locations 10 years after afforestation, when benthic macrofauna diversity, TOC, and clay content were lower at afforested sites than at natural mangrove sites. Our results suggest that compensatory planting of mangroves in areas without previous natural occurrence can potentially compensate for loss of biodiversity due to coastal development and that physical parameters may become more similar in afforested mangroves and natural mangroves over time. Furthermore, the increase in TOC in sediments in afforested mangroves over time can help mitigation of climate change. Importantly, the results highlight the need for long-term studies and perspectives when evaluating conservation practices.


Arabian gulf Conservation biology Mangrove restoration Environmental management Invertebrate diversity Benthic macrofauna diversity 



The authors thank Mr. Abdol Ali Moghaddasi and Mr. DM Genise Estremadura for their assistance during field and laboratory work. Special appreciation goes to the Environmental Studies Center (ESC), for giving permission to use its laboratory for sediment analyses. The study was partly funded by Qatar University (Grant QUUG-CAS-DBES-15/16-5).

Author contributions

JAAK initiated the study, acted as main author, and carried out the fieldwork and species determination. JAAK and JMA carried out statistical analyses and prepared the diagrams. JMA co-authored the paper. MAA carried out fieldwork and species determination.

Compliance with ethical standards

Conflict of interest

The authors declare no competing financial interests. The study did not involve work with humans or vertebrates. All authors have approved the manuscript and agree to its submission.

Data availability

Raw data used for analyses, a list of macrobenthic fauna associated with the natural and planted mangrove sites (Table S1). Effect (p values) of mangrove type, position, and site on abundance and species richness in benthic macrofauna groups (Table S2). Summary of site physical parameters (Table S3). Supplementary Figures (FS1-S3) are included in the online Supplementary Information.

Supplementary material

27_2018_599_MOESM1_ESM.pdf (322 kb)
Supplementary material 1 (PDF 321 KB)
27_2018_599_MOESM2_ESM.pdf (401 kb)
Supplementary material 2 (PDF 400 KB)


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Copyright information

© Springer Nature Switzerland AG 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Biological and Environmental Sciences, College of Arts and SciencesQatar UniversityDohaQatar
  2. 2.Environmental Studies CenterQatar UniversityDohaQatar

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