Mangrove distribution in relation to seasonal water salinity and ion compartmentation: a field study along a freshwater-dominated river

  • Li Xu
  • Mao Wang
  • Changpeng Xin
  • Chao Liu
  • Wenqing WangEmail author
Primary Research Paper


This study was designed to survey zonation and ion compartmentalization of mangroves in relation to water salinity along a freshwater-dominated river to reveal controlling factors of mangrove distribution, and to define differences in the mechanisms of adaptation to fluctuating salinity between true mangroves and mangrove associates. The water salinity along the river exhibited significant spatial and temporal variations, and true mangroves did not occur where freshwater was permanent. Both the true mangrove Aegiceras corniculatum and mangrove associate Hibiscus tiliaceus showed signs of preferential uptake of Cl and K+ at low-salinity sites, and Cl and Na+ exclusion at high-salinity sites. However, they differed in their selectivity for K+ over Na+: A. corniculatum preferentially absorbed K+ via root absorption, whereas H. tiliaceus preferentially controlled Na+ and promoted the transport of K+ from roots to stems. These findings indicate that, under fluctuating salinity, mangroves along the river maintained ion homeostasis in their tissues via preferential uptake of Cl and K+ under low salinity and exclusion of Cl and Na+ under high salinity. Water salinity regime and salt tolerance of mangrove species can explain the mangrove distribution along rivers.


True mangrove Mangrove associate Salinity fluctuation Control factor Distribution 



We would like to thank Prof. Binyuan He and Prof. Guang-long Qiu, Guangxi Mangrove Research Center and many members of Beilunhekou National Nature Reserve for assistance with field work, to thank Prof. Nora F. Y. Tam, for her help of English writing and relevant comments on the manuscript. We thank LetPub ( for its linguistic assistance during the preparation of this manuscript. This study was jointly supported by the National Key Research and Development Program of China (No. 2016YFC0502904), the National Natural Science Foundation of China (No. 40776046).

Supplementary material

10750_2019_4119_MOESM1_ESM.docx (24 kb)
Supplementary material 1 (DOCX 23 kb)


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© Springer Nature Switzerland AG 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Key Laboratory of the Coastal and Wetland Ecosystems (Xiamen University), Ministry of Education, College of the Environment & EcologyXiamen UniversityXiamenChina

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