Wetlands Ecology and Management

, Volume 24, Issue 2, pp 139–152 | Cite as

Soil properties of mangroves in contrasting geomorphic settings within the Zambezi River Delta, Mozambique

  • Christina E. Stringer
  • Carl C. Trettin
  • Stanley J. Zarnoch
Original Paper


Mangroves are well-known for their numerous ecosystem services, including sequestering a significant carbon stock, with soils accounting for the largest pool. The soil carbon pool is dependent on the carbon content and bulk density. Our objective was to assess the spatial variability of mangrove soil physical and chemical properties within the Zambezi River Delta and determine whether it may be associated with geomorphic setting. Plots were classified as one of four geomorphic settings: seaward fringe, creek, riverine, and interior. Additionally, we attempted to determine the source(s) of organic matter contributing to the soil carbon pool and any associated spatial variability therein. Many statistically significant differences were shown with depth and setting. However, variability of the measured characteristics was low when compared to other mangrove settings. Mean carbon concentrations ranged from 1.38 to 2.38 % C and mean bulk density values ranged from 0.75 to 1.02 g cm−3. Stable isotopic signatures showed that the organic matter is likely a mix of mangrove and marine sources, with mangrove-derived sources contributing 42–58 %.


Blue carbon Forested wetland Organic matter Soil carbon Soil nitrogen Zambezi River Delta 



Denise Nicolau, Itelvino Cunat, and Rito Mabunda provided invaluable logistical support during the planning and implementation of field missions. Célia Macamo and Salamão Bandeira assisted prior to, and during field work, with identification of mangrove and other plant species. The staff of the Soils Lab at Universidade de Eduardo Mondlane processed the soil samples. Julie Arnold and Artheera Bayles at the USFS Center for Forested Wetlands Research assisted with soil carbon analyses. The success of this project would not have been possible without the hard work and dedication of the 2012 and 2013 mission field crews. This work was made possible by US AID support to the USFS under the US AID Mozambique Global Climate Change Sustainable Landscape Program, in collaboration with the Natural Resource Assessment Department of the Government of Mozambique. Three anonymous reviewers also provided thorough reviews and thoughtful suggestions that greatly improved the manuscript.

Funding sources

USDA Forest Service, USAID.


  1. Adame MF, Kauffman JB, Medina I, Gamboa JN, Torres O, Caamal JP, Reza M, Herrera-Silveira JA (2013) Carbon stocks of tropical coastal wetlands within the karstic landscape of the Mexican Caribbean. PLoS One 8:e56569CrossRefPubMedPubMedCentralGoogle Scholar
  2. Alongi DM (2014) Carbon cycling and storage in mangrove forests. Annu Rev Mar Sci 6:195–219CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. Barbosa FMA, Cuambe CC, Bandeira SO (2001) Status and distribution of mangroves in Mozambique. South Afr J Bot 67:393–398CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. Beilfuss RD, Santos DD (2001) Patterns of vegetation change in the Zambezi Delta, Mozambique. In: Program for the sustainable management of Cahora Bassa Dam and the Lower Zambezi ValleyGoogle Scholar
  5. Bento CM, Beilfuss RD, Hockey PA (2007) Distribution, structure and simulation modelling of the Wattled Crane population in the Marromeu Complex of the Zambezi Delta, Mozambique. Ostrich J Afr Ornithol 78:185–193CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. Bouillon S, Moens T, Overmeer I, Koedam N, Dehairs F (2004) Resource utilization patterns of epifauna from mangrove forests with contrasting inputs of local versus imported organic matter. Mar Ecol Prog Ser 278:77–88CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. Bouillon S et al (2008) Mangrove production and carbon sinks: a revision of global budget estimates. Global Biogeochem Cycles 22:GB2013CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. Chmura GL, Anisfeld SC, Cahoon DR, Lynch JC (2003) Global carbon sequestration in tidal, saline wetland soils. Global Biogeochem Cycles. doi: 10.1029/2002GB001917 Google Scholar
  9. Cifuentes LA, Coffin RB, Solorzano L, Cardenas W, Espinoza J, Twilley RR (1996) Isotopic and elemental variations of carbon and nitrogen in a mangrove estuary. Estuar Coast Shelf Sci 43:781–800CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. Coleman J (2004) The Zambezi Delta. In: The world delta database. Louisiana State University, Baton Rouge. Accessed 23 May 2014
  11. Davies BR, Beilfuss RD, Thoms MC (2000) Cahora Bassa retrospective, 1974–1997: effects of flow regulation on the Lower Zambezi River. Verhandlungen des Internationalen Verein Limnologie 27:1–9Google Scholar
  12. Donato DC, Kauffman JB, Murdiyarso D, Kurnianto S, Stidham M, Kanninen M (2011) Mangroves amongst the most carbon-rich forests in the tropics. Nat Geosci 4:293–297CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  13. Donato DC, Kauffman JB, Mackenzie RA, Ainsworth A, Pfleeger AZ (2012) Whole-island carbon stocks in the tropical Pacific: implications for mangrove conservation and upland restoration. J Environ Manag 97:89–96CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  14. Fatoyinbo TE, Simard M (2013) Height and biomass of mangroves in Africa from ICESat/GLAS and SRTM. Int J Remote Sens 34:668–681CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  15. Hoguane AM (2007) Perfil Diagnóstico da Zona Costeira de Moçambique. Revista de Gestão Costeira Integrada 7:69–82CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  16. Howard PJA (1965) The carbon-organic matter factor in various soil types. Oikos 15:229–236CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  17. Jones TG, Ratsimba HR, Ravaoarinorotsihoarana L, Cripps G, Bey A (2014) Ecological variability and carbon stock estimates of mangrove ecosystems in northwestern Madagascar. Forests 5:177–205CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  18. Kauffman JB, Donato DC (2012) Protocols for the measurement, monitoring and reporting of structure, biomass and carbon stocks in mangrove forests. Center for International Forestry Research, BogorGoogle Scholar
  19. Kauffman JB, Heider C, Cole TG, Dwire KA, Donato DC (2011) Ecosystem carbon stocks of micronesian mangrove forests. Wetlands 31:343–352CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  20. Kauffman JB, Heider C, Norfolk J, Payton F (2014) Carbon stocks of intact mangroves and carbon emissions arising from their conversion in the Dominican Republic. Ecol Appl 24:518–527CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  21. Kristensen E, Bouillon S, Dittmar T, Marchand C (2008) Organic carbon dynamics in mangrove ecosystems: a review. Aquat Bot 89:201–219CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  22. Lugo AE, Snedaker SC (1974) The ecology of mangroves. Annu Rev Ecol Syst 5:39–64CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  23. Middelburg JJ, Nieuwenhuize J, Slim FJ, Ohowa B (1996) Sediment biogeochemistry in an East African mangrove forest (Gazi Bay, Kenya). Biogeochemistry 34:133–155CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  24. Nelson DW, Sommers LE (1996) Total carbon, organic carbon, and organic matter. Methods of soil analysis, part 3: chemical methods, 2nd edn. Soil Science Society of America, Inc., Madison, pp 1002–1005Google Scholar
  25. Peterson BJ, Howarth RW, Garritt RH (1985) Multiple stable isotopes used to trace the flow of organic matter in estuarine food webs. Science 227:1361–1363CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  26. Rahman MM, Khan MNI, Hoque AKF, Ahmed I (2014) Carbon stock in the Sundarbans mangrove forest: spatial variations in vegetation types and salinity zones. Wetlands Ecol Manag. doi: 10.1007/s11273-014-9379-x Google Scholar
  27. Ranjan RK, Routh J, Rmanathan AL, Klump JV (2011) Elemental and stable isotope records of organic matter input and its fate in the Pichavaram mangrove-estuarine sediments (Tamil Nadu, India). Mar Chem 126:163–172CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  28. Ryzak M, Bieganowski A (2011) Methodogical aspects of determining soil particle-size distribution using the laser diffraction method. J Plant Nutr Soil Sci 174:624–633CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  29. Saintilan N, Rogers K, Mazumder D, Woodroffe C (2013) Allochthonous and autochthonous contributions to carbon accumulation and carbon store in southeastern Australian coastal wetlands. Estuar Coast Shelf Sci 128:84–92CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  30. SAS (2011) SAS/STAT 9.3 User’s guide. SAS Institute Inc., CaryGoogle Scholar
  31. Stringer CE, Trettin CC, Zarnoch SJ, Tang W (2015) Carbon stocks of mangroves within the Zambezi River Delta, Mozambique. For Ecol Manag 354:139–148CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  32. Sukardjo S, Alongi DM, Kusmana C (2013) Rapid litter production and accumulation in Bornean mangrove forests. Ecosphere 4(7):art79Google Scholar
  33. Thomas GW (1996) Soil pH and soil acidity. Methods of soil analysis: part 3—chemical methods. Soil Science Society of America, Madison, pp 475–490Google Scholar
  34. Trettin CC, Stringer CE, Zarnoch SJ (2015) Composition, biomass and structure of mangroves within the Zambezi River Delta. Wetlands Ecol Manag. doi: 10.1007/s11273-015-9465-8 Google Scholar
  35. Tweddle D (2013) Lower Zambezi. In: Freshwater ecoregions of the World. Accessed 20 May 2014
  36. Twilley RR, Rivera-Monroy VH, Chen R, Botero L (1998) Adapting an ecological mangrove model to simulate trajectories in restoration ecology. Mar Pollut Bull 37:404–419CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  37. Wang G, Guan D, Peart MR, Chen Y, Peng Y (2013) Ecosystem carbon stocks of mangrove forest in Yingluo Bay, Guangdong Province of South China. For Ecol Manag 310:539–546CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  38. Wright LD (1978) River deltas. In: Davis RAJ (ed) Coastal sedimentary environments. Springer, New York, pp 5–68CrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht (outside the USA) 2016

Authors and Affiliations

  • Christina E. Stringer
    • 1
  • Carl C. Trettin
    • 1
  • Stanley J. Zarnoch
    • 2
  1. 1.Center for Forested Wetlands Research, Southern Research StationUSDA Forest ServiceCordesvilleUSA
  2. 2.Forest Inventory and Analysis, Southern Research StationUSDA Forest ServiceClemsonUSA

Personalised recommendations