Estuaries and Coasts

, Volume 39, Issue 2, pp 385–396 | Cite as

Mangrove Range Expansion Rapidly Increases Coastal Wetland Carbon Storage

  • Cheryl L. Doughty
  • J. Adam Langley
  • Wayne S. Walker
  • Ilka C. Feller
  • Ronald Schaub
  • Samantha K. Chapman
Article

Abstract

The climate change-induced expansion of mangroves into salt marshes could significantly alter the carbon (C) storage capacity of coastal wetlands, which have the highest average C storage per land area among unmanaged terrestrial ecosystems. Mangrove range expansion is occurring globally, but little is known about how these rapid climate-driven shifts may alter ecosystem C storage. Here, we quantify current C stocks in ecotonal wetlands across gradients of marsh- to mangrove-dominance, and use unique chronological maps of vegetation cover to estimate C stock changes from 2003 to 2010 in a 567-km2 wildlife refuge in the mangrove-salt marsh ecotone. We report that over the 7-yr. period, total wetland C stocks increased 22 % due to mangrove encroachment into salt marshes. Newly established mangrove stands stored twice as much C on a per area basis as salt marsh primarily due to differences in aboveground biomass, and mangrove cover increased by 69 % during this short time interval. Wetland C storage within the wildlife refuge increased at a rate of 2.7 Mg C ha−1 yr.−1, more than doubling the naturally high coastal wetland C sequestration rates. Mangrove expansion could account for a globally significant increase of terrestrial C storage, which may exert a considerable negative feedback on warming.

Keywords

Climate change Range expansion Ecotone Carbon storage Mangrove Salt marsh 

Supplementary material

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12237_2015_9993_MOESM2_ESM.doc (13 kb)
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Copyright information

© Coastal and Estuarine Research Federation 2015

Authors and Affiliations

  • Cheryl L. Doughty
    • 1
  • J. Adam Langley
    • 1
  • Wayne S. Walker
    • 2
  • Ilka C. Feller
    • 3
  • Ronald Schaub
    • 4
  • Samantha K. Chapman
    • 1
  1. 1.Biology DepartmentVillanova UniversityVillanovaUSA
  2. 2.Woods Hole Research CenterFalmouthUSA
  3. 3.Smithsonian Environmental Research CenterEdgewaterUSA
  4. 4.InoMedic Health Applications Inc.Kennedy Space CenterUSA

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