, Volume 22, Issue 4, pp 844–858 | Cite as

Spatial Variability of Organic Carbon, CaCO3 and Nutrient Burial Rates Spanning a Mangrove Productivity Gradient in the Coastal Everglades

  • Joshua L. BreithauptEmail author
  • Joseph M. Smoak
  • Christian J. Sanders
  • Tiffany G. Troxler


Mangrove wetlands are some of the most important locations of organic carbon (OC) sequestration and storage in the world on a per area basis. The high stocks of soil OC are driven by generally high burial rates and efficient preservation of organic material over past millennia of relatively slow and consistent sea level rise. Although the global average rate of OC burial in mangrove wetlands is relatively high, the range in the literature varies by up to two orders of magnitude. The objective of this research was to measure burial rates of OC, CaCO3, and nutrients [total nitrogen (TN) and phosphorous (TP)] across a pronounced ecosystem gradient of productivity and salinity in the coastal Everglades of southwestern Florida, USA. Concentrations and burial rates of both CaCO3 (range 13–1233 g m−2 y−1) and TP (range 0.10–1.59 g m−2 y−1) decreased significantly with distance from the Gulf of Mexico. In contrast, there was less spatial variability in OC (134 ± 12 (1 SE) g m−2 y−1) and TN (6.2 ± 0.4 g m−2 y−1) burial rates. However, significant (P < 0.001) regional differences in OC burial rates were observed relative to mangrove primary productivity. Over a centennial timescale, downstream sites buried 14% of annual net primary production, midstream sites buried 22%, and upstream sites preserved less than 10%.


organic carbon burial nitrogen phosphorous carbonate burial mangroves Everglades 



The authors thank the following individuals for field and laboratory assistance: Kailey Comparetto, Amanda Chappel, Jessica Jacobs, Ding He, Lindsay Brendis, Mason Jeffers, Jared Ritch. This work was funded by the University of South Florida College of Marine Science fellowships provided by Anne and Werner Von Rosenstiel and the St. Petersburg Downtown Partnership; the US Environmental Protection Agency STAR Fellowship [Grant No. F13B20216] and the National Science Foundation South Florida Water, Sustainability and Climate program [Grant No. EAR-1204079] to JMS. CJS was supported by the Australian Research Council (DE160100443 and DP150103286). Data sets were provided by the Florida Coastal Everglades Long-Term Ecological Research (LTER) Program, supported by the National Science Foundation under Grant Nos. DEB-1237517, DBI-0620409, and DEB-9910514.

Supplementary material

10021_2018_306_MOESM1_ESM.xlsx (48 kb)
Supplementary material 1 (XLSX 47 kb)
10021_2018_306_MOESM2_ESM.tif (387 kb)
Figure S1 Mean aboveground vegetation characteristics by site classification: A) Dry aboveground biomass, B) basal area, C) stem density, and D) site complexity index. Same capital letters by stream position indicate no significant difference was detected (P > 0.05). (TIFF 386 kb)


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© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC, part of Springer Nature 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.College of Marine ScienceUniversity of South FloridaSt. PetersburgUSA
  2. 2.University of South Florida, Environmental ScienceSt. PetersburgUSA
  3. 3.National Marine Science Centre, School of Environment, Science and EngineeringSouthern Cross UniversityCoffs HarbourAustralia
  4. 4.Southeast Environmental Research CenterFlorida International UniversityMiamiUSA
  5. 5.Department of Biological SciencesFlorida International UniversityMiamiUSA
  6. 6.Department of BiologyUniversity of Central FloridaOrlandoUSA

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