, Volume 37, Issue 3, pp 471–483 | Cite as

Impacts of Mangrove Density on Surface Sediment Accretion, Belowground Biomass and Biogeochemistry in Puttalam Lagoon, Sri Lanka

  • D.H. PhillipsEmail author
  • M.P. Kumara
  • L.P. Jayatissa
  • K.W. Krauss
  • M. Huxham
Original Research


Understanding the effects of seedling density on sediment accretion, biogeochemistry and belowground biomass in mangrove systems can help explain ecological functioning and inform appropriate planting densities during restoration or climate change mitigation programs. The objectives of this study were to examine: 1) impacts of mangrove seedling density on surface sediment accretion, texture, belowground biomass and biogeochemistry, and 2) origins of the carbon (C) supplied to the mangroves in Palakuda, Puttalam Lagoon, Sri Lanka. Rhizophora mucronata propagules were planted at densities of 6.96, 3.26, 1.93 and 0.95 seedlings m−2 along with an unplanted control (0 seedlings m−2). The highest seedling density generally had higher sediment accretion rates, finer sediments, higher belowground biomass, greatest number of fine roots and highest concentrations of C and nitrogen (N) (and the lowest C/N ratio). Sediment accretion rates, belowground biomass (over 1370 days), and C and N concentrations differed significantly between seedling densities. Fine roots were significantly greater compared to medium and coarse roots across all plantation densities. Sulphur and carbon stable isotopes did not vary significantly between different density treatments. Isotope signatures suggest surface sediment C (to a depth of 1 cm) is not derived predominantly from the trees, but from seagrass adjacent to the site.


Mangroves Sediment nutrients Accretion Facilitation Sri Lanka Biogeochemistry Belowground biomass Stable isotopes Carbon 



The authors thank Earthwatch Institute and Zurich International for funding this project. They also thank Earthwatch Institute for providing volunteers who helped with the planting of mangroves at the site. Any use of trade, firm, or product names is for descriptive purposes only and does not imply endorsement by the U.S. Government.


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Copyright information

© US Government 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  • D.H. Phillips
    • 1
    Email author
  • M.P. Kumara
    • 2
  • L.P. Jayatissa
    • 3
  • K.W. Krauss
    • 4
  • M. Huxham
    • 5
  1. 1.School of Natural and Built EnvironmentQueen’s University of BelfastBelfastUK
  2. 2.Faculty of Fisheries and Marine ScienceOcean University of Sri LankaTangalleSri Lanka
  3. 3.Department BotanyUniversity of RuhunaMataraSri Lanka
  4. 4.U.S. Geological Survey, Wetland and Aquatic Research CenterLafayetteUSA
  5. 5.School of Applied SciencesEdinburgh Napier UniversityEdinburghUK

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