, Volume 11, Issue 2, pp 342–354 | Cite as

Soil Respiration and Belowground Carbon Allocation in Mangrove Forests



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.


aboveground primary production total belowground carbon allocation leaf area index climate change Avicennia marina Avicennia germinans Ceriops tagal Rhizophora lamarkii Rhizophora mangle 


  1. Alongi DM. 2002. Present state and future of the world’s mangrove forests. Environ Conserv 29:331–49CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. Alongi DM, Boto KG, Robertson AI. 1992. Foodchains and carbon fluxes. In: Roberston AI, Alongi DM, Eds. Tropical mangrove ecosystems. Coastal and Estuarine Studies 41. Washington DC, USA: American Geophysical Union. pp 251–92Google Scholar
  3. Alongi DM, Clough BF, Dixon P, Terendi F. 2003. Nutrient partitioning and storage in arid-zone forests of the mangrove Rhizophora stylosa and Avicennia marina. Trees 17:51–60CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. Alongi DM, Clough BF, Robertson AI. 2005a. Nutrient-use efficiency in arid-zone forests of the mangroves Rhizophora stylosa and Avicennia marina. Aquat Bot 82:121–31CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. Alongi DM, Pfitzner J, Trott LA, Tirendi F, Dixon P, Klumpp DW. 2005b. Rapid soil accumulation and microbial mineralization in forests of the mangrove Kandelia candel in the Jiulongjiang estuary, China. Estuar Coast Shelf Sci 63:605–18CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. Alongi DM, Sasekumar A, Chong VC, Pfitzner J, Trott LA, Terendi F, Dixon P, Brunskill GJ. 2004. Soil accumulation and organic material flux in a managed mangrove ecosystem: estimates of land-ocean-atmosphere exchange in peninsular Malaysia. Mar Geol 208:383–402CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. Alongi DM, Tirendi F, Clough BF. 2000. Below-ground decomposition of organic matter in forests of the mangroves Rhizophora sylosa and Avicennia marina along the arid coast of Western Australia. Aquat Bot 68:97–122CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. Alongi DM, Wattayakorn G, Pfitzner J, Terendi F, Zagorskis I, Brunskill GJ, Davidson A, Clough BF. 2001. Organic carbon accumulation and metabolic pathways in soils of mangrove forests in southern Thailand. Mar Geol 179:85–103CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  9. Amador JA, Jones RD. 1993. Nutrient limitation on microbial respiration in peat soils with different total phosphorus content. Soil Bio Biochem 25:793–801CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. An S, Joye SB. 2001. Enhancement of coupled denitrification by benthic photosynthesis in shallow subtidal estuarine soils. Limnol Oceanogr 46:62–74CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  11. Arreola-Lizarraga JA, Flores-Verdugo FJ, Ortega-Rubio A. 2004. Structure and litterfall of an arid mangrove stand on the Gulf of California, Mexico. Aqua Bot 79:137–43CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  12. Bond-Lamberty B, Wang C, Gower S. 2004. A global relationship between the heterotrophic and autotrophic components of soil respiration? Glob Change Biol 10:1756–66CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  13. Boone RD, Nadelhoffer KJ, Canary JD, Kaye JP. 1998. Roots exert a strong influence on the temperature sensitivity of soil respiration. Nature 396:570–72CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  14. Bréda NJJ. 2003. Ground-based measurements of leaf area index: a review of methods, instruments and current controversies. J Exp Bot 54:2403–17PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  15. Brouwer R (1962) Distribution of dry matter in the plant. Neth J Agric Sci 10:399–408Google Scholar
  16. Bunt JS. 1995. Continental scale patterns in mangrove litter fall. Hydrobiologia 295:135–40CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  17. Cable JM, Huxman TE. 2004. Precipitation pulse size effects on Sonoran Desert soil microbial crusts. Oecologia 141:317–24PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  18. Cahoon DR, Hensel P, Rybczyk J, McKee K, Proffitt CE, Perez B. 2003. Mass tree mortality leads to mangrove peat collapse at Bay Islands, Honduras after Hurricane Mitch. J Ecol 91:1093–105CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  19. Cannell MGR, Dewar RC. 1994. Carbon allocation in trees—a review of concepts for modeling. Adv Ecol Res 25:59–104CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  20. Chapin FS. 1991. Effects of multiple environmental stresses on nutrient availability and use. In: Mooney HA, Winner W, Pell EJ, Eds. Responses of plants to multiple stresses. Physiological Ecology Series. San Diego: Academic Press Inc. pp 67–88Google Scholar
  21. Chimner RA. 2004. Soil respiration rates of tropical peatlands in Micronesia and Hawaii. Wetlands 24:51–56CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  22. Chmura GL, Anisfeld SC, Cahoon DR, Lynch JC. 2003. Global carbon sequestration in tidal, saline wetland soils. Glob Biogeochem Cycl 17:1111–20CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  23. Clough BF. 1998. Mangrove forest productivity and biomass accumulation in Hinchinbrook Channel, Australia. Mangr Salt Marsh 2:191–8CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  24. Clough BF. 1992. Primary productivity and growth of mangrove forests. In: Roberston AI, Alongi DM, Eds. Tropical mangrove ecosystems. Coastal and Estuarine Studies 41, Washington DC, USA: American Geophysical Union. pp 225–50Google Scholar
  25. Curiel Yuste J, Janssens IA, Carrara A, Ceulemans R. 2004. Annual Q10 of soil respiration reflects plant phonological patterns as well as temperature sensitivity. Glob Change Biol 10:161–9CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  26. Davidson EA, Savage K, Bolstad P, Clark DA, Curtis PS, Ellsworth DS, Hanson PJ, Lay BE, Luo Y, Pregitzer KS, Randolf JC, Zak D. 2002. Belowground carbon allocation in forests estimated from litterfall and IRGA-based soil respiration measurements. Agric Forest Meteorol 113:39–51CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  27. Davidson EA, Verchot LV, Cattanio HJ, Ackerman IL, Carvalho JEM. 2000. Effects of soil water content on soil respiration in forests and cattle pastures of eastern Amazonia. Biogeochemistry 48:53–69CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  28. Davie JDS. 1984. Structural variation, litter production and nutrient status of mangrove vegetation in Moreton Bay. In: Coleman RJ, Covacevich J, Darle P, Eds. Focus on Stradbroke, Brisbane: Boolarong Publications. pp 208–23Google Scholar
  29. Dittmar T, Hertkorn N, Kattner G, Lara RJ. 2006. Mangroves, a major source of dissolved organic carbon to the oceans. Glob Biogeochem Cycl 20:1–7CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  30. Duke N, Ball MC, Ellison JC. 1998. Factors influencing the diversity and distributional gradients in mangroves. Glob Ecol Biogeogr Lett 7:27–47CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  31. Ellis J, Nicholls P, Craggs R, Hofstra D, Hewitt J. 2004. Effects of terrigenous sedimentation on mangrove physiology and associated macrobenthic communities. Mar Ecol Progr Ser 270:71–82CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  32. Ellison AM, Farnsworth EJ. 1996. Spatial and temporal variability in growth of Rhizophora mangle saplings on coral cays: links with variation in insolation, herbivory, and local sedimentation rate. J Ecol 84:717–31CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  33. Ewel KC, Twilley RR, Ong JE. 1998. Different kinds of mangrove forests provide different goods and services. Glob Ecol Biogeogr Lett 7:83–94CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  34. Fang C, Moncrieff JB. 2001. The dependence of soil CO2 efflux on temperature. Soil Biol Biochem 33:155–65CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  35. Feller IC. 1995. Effects of nutrient enrichment on growth and herbivory of dwarf red mangrove (Rhizophora mangle). Ecol Monogr 65:477–505CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  36. Feller IC, Whigham DF, McKee KL, Lovelock CE. 2003. Nitrogen limitation of growth and nutrient dynamics in a mangrove forest, Indian River Lagoon, Florida. Oecologia 134:405–14PubMedGoogle Scholar
  37. Feller IC, Whigham DF, McKee KL, O’Neill JP. 2002. Nitrogen vs. phosphorus limitation across an ecotonal gradient in a mangrove forest. Biogeochemistry 62:145–75CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  38. Furukawa K, Wolanski E, Mueller H. 1997. Currents and sediment transport in mangrove forests. Estuar Coast Shelf Sci 44:301–9CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  39. Giardina CP, Ryan MG. 2000. Evidence that decomposition rates of organic carbon in mineral soil does not vary with temperature. Nature 404:858–61PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  40. Giardina CP, Ryan MG. 2002. Soil surface CO2 efflux, litterfall and total belowground carbon allocation in a fast growing Eucalyptus plantation. Ecosystems 5:487–99CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  41. Giardina CP, Ryan MG, Binkley D, Fownes JH. 2003. Primary production and carbon allocation in relation to nutrient supply in a tropical experimental forest. Glob Change Biol 9:1438–50CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  42. Golley FB, McGinnis JT, Clements RT, Child G1, Duever MJ. 1975. Mineral cycling in a tropical moist forest ecosystem. University of Georgia Press, AthensGoogle Scholar
  43. Grace J, Rayment M. 2000. Respiration in the balance. Nature 404:819–20PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  44. Green EP, Clark CD, Mumby PJ, Edwards AJ, Ellis AC. 1998. Remote sensing techniques for mangrove mapping. Int J Remote Sens 19:935–56CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  45. Guzman HM, Barnes PAG, Lovelock CE, Feller IC. 2005. A site description of the CARICOMP mangrove, seagrass and coral reef sites in Bocas del Toro, Panama. Caribb J Sci 41:430–40Google Scholar
  46. Högberg P, Nordgren A, Buchmann N, Taylor AFS, Ekblad A, Hogberg M, Nyberg G, Ottosson-Lofvenius M, Read DJ. 2001. Large-scale forest girdling shows that current photosynthesis drives soil respiration. Nature 411:789–90PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  47. Howes BL, Dacey JWH, Teal JM. 1985. Annual carbon mineralization and belowground production of Spartina alternijlora in a New England salt marsh. Ecology 66:595–605CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  48. Hutchings P, Saenger P. 1987. Ecology of mangroves. St Lucia, Brisbane, Australia: University of Queensland PressGoogle Scholar
  49. Janssens IA, Pilkegaard K. 2003. Large seasonal changes in Q 10 of soil respiration in a beech forest. Glob Change Biol 9:911–8CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  50. Jianwu Tang, Baldocchi DD, Liukang Xu. 2005. Tree photosynthesis modulates soil respiration on a diurnal time scale. Glob Change Biol 11:1298–304CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  51. Joye SB, Lee RY. 2004. Benthic microbial mats: important sources of fixed nitrogen and carbon to the Twin Cays, Belize ecosystem. Atoll Res Bull 528:1–24Google Scholar
  52. Komiyama A, Ogina K, Aksornkoae S, Sabhasri S. 1987. Root biomass of a mangrove forest in southern Thailand. 1. Estimation by the trench method and the zonal structure of root biomass. J Trop Ecol 3:97–108Google Scholar
  53. Kuzyokov Y. 2002. Separating microbial respiration of exudates from root respiration in non-sterile soils: a comparison of four methods. Soil Biol Biochem 34:1621–31CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  54. Lee RY, Joye SB. 2006. Patterns and controls on nitrogen fixation and denitrification in intertidal soils of a tropical oceanic mangrove island. Mar Ecol Prog Ser 307:127–41CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  55. Lloyd J, Taylor JA. 1994. On the temperature dependence of soil respiration. Funct Ecol 8:315–23CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  56. Lovelock CE, Feller IC, Ball MC, Ellis J, Sorrell B. 2007a. Testing the Growth Rate vs. Geochemical Hypothesis for latitudinal variation in plant nutrients. Ecol Lett 10:1154–63PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  57. Lovelock CE, Feller IC, Ellis J, Schwarz AM, Hancock N, Nichols P, Sorrell B. 2007b. Mangrove growth in New Zealand estuaries: the role of nutrient enrichment at sites with contrasting rates of sedimentation. Oecologia 153:633–41PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  58. Lovelock CE, Feller IC, McKee KL, Engelbrecht BM, Ball MC. 2004. The effect of nutrient enrichment on growth, photosynthesis and hydraulic conductance of dwarf mangroves in Panama. Funct Ecol 18:25–33CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  59. Lovelock CE, Feller IC, McKee KL, Thompson R. 2005. Variation in mangrove forest structure and soil characteristics in Bocas del Toro, Republic of Panamá. Caribb J Sci 41:456–64Google Scholar
  60. Lovelock CE, Ruess RW, Feller IC. 2006. Fine root respiration in the mangrove Rhizophora mangle over variation in forest stature and nutrient availability. Tree Physiol 26:1601–6PubMedGoogle Scholar
  61. Lugo AE. 1997. Old-growth mangrove forests in the United States. Conserv Biol 11:11–20CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  62. Lugo AE, Snedaker SC. 1974. The ecology of mangroves. Ann Rev Ecol System 5:39–64CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  63. Macintyre IG, Littler MM, Littler DS. 1995. Holocene history of Tobacco Range, Belize, Central America. Atoll Res Bull 43:1–18Google Scholar
  64. Manson FJ, Loneraganc NR, Phinn SR. 2003. Spatial and temporal variation in distribution of mangroves in Moreton Bay, subtropical Australia: a comparison of pattern metrics and change detection analyses based on aerial photographs. Estuar Coast Shelf Sci 57:653–66CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  65. McKee KL. 1996. Growth and physiological responses of neotropical mangrove seedlings to root zone hypoxia. Tree Physiol 16:883–9PubMedGoogle Scholar
  66. McKee KL. 2001. Root proliferation in decaying roots and old root channels: a nutrient conservation mechanism in oligotrophic mangrove forests? J Ecol 89:876–87CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  67. McKee KL, Cahoon DR, Feller IC. 2007. Caribbean mangroves adjust to rising sea level through biotic controls on change in soil elevation. Glob Ecol Biogeogr 16:545–56CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  68. McKee KL, Faulkner PL. 2000. Mangrove peat analysis and reconstruction of vegetation history at the Pelican Cays, Belize. Atoll Res Bull 48:46–58Google Scholar
  69. McKee KL, Feller IC, Popp M, Wanek W. 2002. Mangrove isotopic fractionation (δ15N and δ13C) across a nitrogen versus phosphorus limitation gradient. Ecology 83:1065–75Google Scholar
  70. Melillo JM, Steudler PA, Aber JD, Newkirk K, Lux H, Bowles FP, Catricala C, Magill A, Ahrens T, Morrisseau S. 2002. Soil warming and carbon-cycle feedbacks to the climate system. Science 298:2173–217PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  71. Middleburg JJ, Nieuwenhuize J, Slim FJ, Ohowa B. 1996. Sediment biogeochemistry in an East African mangrove forest (Gazi Bay, Kenya). Biogeochem 34:133–55Google Scholar
  72. Potts M. 1979. Nitrogen fixation (acetelene reduction) associated with communities of heterocystous and nonheterocystous bluegreen algae in mangrove forests of Sinai. Oecologia 39:359–73CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  73. Raich JW. 1998. Aboveground productivity and soil respiration in three Hawaiian rain forests. For Ecol Manage 107:309–18CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  74. Raich JW, Nadelhoffer KJ. 1989. Belowground carbon allocation in forest ecosystems: global trends. Ecology 70:1346–54CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  75. Raich JW, Schlesinger WH. 1992. The global carbon dioxide flux in soil respiration and its relationship to vegetation and climate. Tellus 44B:81–99Google Scholar
  76. Raich JW, Tufekcioglu A. 2000. Vegetation and soil respiration: correlations and controls. Biogeochemistry 48:71–90CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  77. Robertson AI, Alongi DM, Boto KG. 1992. Foodchains and carbon fluxes. In: Roberston AI, Alongi DM, Eds. Tropical mangrove ecosystems. Coastal and Estuarine Studies 41, Washington DC, USA: American Geophysical Union. pp 293–326Google Scholar
  78. Robertson AI, Dixon P. 1993. Separating live and dead fine roots using colloidal silica: an example from mangrove forests. Plant Soil 157:151–4Google Scholar
  79. Ruess RW, Hendrick RL, Burton AJ, Pregitzer KS, Sveinbjornsson B, Allen MF, Maurer G. 2003. Coupling fine root dynamics with ecosystem carbon cycling in black spruce forests of interior Alaska. Ecol Monogr 74:643–62CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  80. Rustad LE, Thomas G, Huntington M, Boone RD. 2000. Controls on soil respiration: implications for climate change. Biogeochemistry 48:1–6CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  81. Saenger P, Snedaker SC. 1993. Pantropical trends in mangrove above-ground biomass and annual litterfall. Oecologia 96:293–329CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  82. Schlesinger WH, Andrews JA. 2000. Soil respiration and the global carbon cycle. Biogeochemistry 48:7–20CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  83. Schories D, Muhlig U. 2000. CO2 gas exchange of benthic mciroalgae during exposure to air: a technique for the rapid assessment of primary production. Wetl Ecol Manag 8:273–80CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  84. Schwarz AM. 2004. Contribution of photosynthetic gains during tidal emersion to production of Zostera capricorni in a North Island, New Zealand estuary. New Zeal J Mar Fresh Res 38:809–18CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  85. Spalding MD, Balsco F, Field CD. 1997. World mangrove atlas. The International Society for Mangrove Ecosystems. Japan: OkinawaGoogle Scholar
  86. Twilley RR. 1985. The exchange of organic carbon in basin mangrove forests in a southwest Florida estuary. Estuar Coasl Shelf Sci 20:543–7CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  87. Twilley RR, Chen RH, Hargis T. 1992. Carbon sinks in mangroves and their implications to carbon budget of tropical coastal ecosystems. Water Air Soil Poll 64:265–88CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  88. Twilley RR, Lugo AE, Patterson-Zucca C. 1986. Litter production and turnover in basin mangrove forests in southwest Florida. Ecology 67:670–83CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  89. Underwood GJC, Perkins RG, Consalvey M, Hanlon ARM, Oxborough K, Baker NR, Paterson DM. 2005. Patterns in microphytobenthic primary productivity: species-specific variation in migratory rhythms and photosynthesis in mixed species biofilms. Limnol Oceanogr 50:755–76CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  90. Valentini R, Matteucchi G, Dolman H, Schulze E-D, Rebmann C, Moors EJ, Granier A, Gross P, Jensen NO, Pilgaard K, Lindroth A, Grelle A, Bernhofer C, Grünwald T, Aubinet M, Ceulemans R, Kowalski AS, Vesala T, Rannik Ü, Berbigier P, Lousteau D, Gudmundsson J, Thorgairsson H, Ibrom A, Morgenstern K, Clement R, Moncrieff J, Montagnani L, Minerbi S, Jarvis PG. 2000. Respiration as the main determinant of carbon balance in European forests. Nature 404:861–5PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  91. Valiela I, Bowen JL, York JK. 2001. Mangrove forests: one of the world’s threatened major tropical environments. BioScience 51:807–81CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  92. Vazquez P, Holguin G, Puente ME, Lopez-Cortes A, Bashan Y. 2000. Phosphate-solubilizing microorganisms associated with the rhizosphere of mangroves in a semiarid coastal lagoon. Biol Fert Soils 30:460–8CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  93. Xu M, Qi Y. 2001. Spatial and seasonal variations of Q10 determined by soil respiration measurements at a Sierra Nevadan forest. Glob Biogeochem Cycl 15:687–96CrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2008

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Centre for Marine Studies and School of Integrative BiologyUniversity of QueenslandSt LuciaAustralia

Personalised recommendations