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Annual Growth Rings in Two Mangrove Species from the Sundarbans, Bangladesh Demonstrate Linkages to Sea-Level Rise and Broad-Scale Ocean-Atmosphere Variability


Worldwide, mangroves are a wetland biome that has both ecological and societal importance. Across the coastal region of the Bay of Bengal, the Sundarbans is the largest continual mangrove forest in the world. One way to examine growth trends in tree species is with tree-ring analysis, or dendrochronology. However, tropical applications of dendrochronology are often met with limited success because not many tropical tree species form consistently annual growth rings. Here, we aim to [1] examine if two common mangrove species in the Sundarbans, Heritiera fomes and Sonneratia apetala, produce annual growth rings and [2] better understand the environmental and climatic drivers of mangrove radial growth. We successfully developed species chronologies from S. apetala and H. fomes and found species-specific correlations with seasonal precipitation. S. apetala growth significantly correlates with climate drivers including the Madden-Julian Oscillation the El Nino-Southern Oscillation, and the Indian Ocean Dipole. Our findings show that growth rings from mangroves that experience distinct changes in seasonal climate can be used as indicators of species health and productivity.

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Field data collection for this research was supported by NASA grant # NNX11AF50G to A.F.R. The authors are thankful to the Bangladesh Forest Department for providing access to the Sundarbans for data collection.

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Correspondence to Justin T. Maxwell.

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Maxwell, J.T., Harley, G.L. & Rahman, A.F. Annual Growth Rings in Two Mangrove Species from the Sundarbans, Bangladesh Demonstrate Linkages to Sea-Level Rise and Broad-Scale Ocean-Atmosphere Variability. Wetlands 38, 1159–1170 (2018).

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  • Dendrochronology
  • Tropical
  • Mangrove
  • Streamflow
  • Climate
  • Indian Ocean dipole
  • Madden-Julian oscillation
  • Sea level rise