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Structure of a unique inland mangrove forest assemblage in fossil lagoons on the Caribbean Coast of Mexico

Abstract

Scrub mangrove wetlands colonize the intertidal zone of fossil lagoons located in carbonate continental margins along the Yucatan Peninsula of Mexico. These unique ecological types were investigated in October, 1994, by locating transects in several mangrove forests along the Caribbean coast of the peninsula. Four species of mangrove occurred at these sites including Rhizophora mangle, Avicennia germinans, Laguncularia racemosa, Conocarpus erecta. This is one of the first examples of a species rich scrub forest. The mangroves fell into three height categories: short scrub less than 1.5 m, tall scrub to 3.0 m, and basin forests between 4.5 and 6 m. Average height, diameter (dbh), basal area, and complexity index generally increased from short scrub to basin forests. Basal area, ranged from 0.16 m2 ha−1 in a short scrub forest intermixed with Cladium jamaicense to 12.9 m2 ha−1 in a basin forest. Density ranged from 1520 trees ha−1 to over 25,000 trees ha−1 in a short scrub forest dominated by R. mangle. The complexity index ranged from 0.01 to 8.3. Height, dbh, basal area, and complexity index were positively related. A number of trees were growing as sprouts from larger downed trunks, suggesting that hurricanes, such as Gilbert that occurred in 1988, are important in controlling the structure of these forests. These forests appear isolated from the sea, but are influenced by groundwater exchange occurring at the land-margin zone.

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Correspondence to Ana Laura Lara-Domínguez.

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Lara-Domínguez, A., Day, J., Zapata, G. et al. Structure of a unique inland mangrove forest assemblage in fossil lagoons on the Caribbean Coast of Mexico. Wetlands Ecol Manage 13, 111–122 (2005). https://doi.org/10.1007/s11273-004-5197-x

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  • DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/s11273-004-5197-x

Keywords

  • Avicennia germinans
  • Basin forests
  • Laguncularia racemosa
  • Rhizophora mangle
  • Scrub forests
  • Tropical