Biophysical Modeling of Mangrove Seedling Establishment and Survival Across an Elevation Gradient With Forest Zones

R. Gijsman*, E. M. Horstman, A. Swales, T. Balke, P. W. J. M. Willemsen, D. van der Wal, K. M. Wijnberg

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

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Abstract

Mangrove forest development critically depends on the establishment and survival of seedlings. Mechanistic insights into how water levels, waves and bed level dynamics influence the establishment process of individual mangrove seedlings are increasing. However, little is known about how spatial and temporal changes in water levels, waves and bed level dynamics across elevation gradients in mangrove forests facilitate/limit seedling dynamics. For this study, a new seedling establishment and growth model was integrated into a process-based hydrodynamic and morphodynamic numerical model. This biophysical model was applied to a fringing mangrove forest located in the southern Firth of Thames, Aotearoa, New Zealand. This study quantifies the increasing establishment density and survival probability of mangrove seedlings from the lower-elevated unvegetated intertidal flat toward the higher-elevated mature mangrove forest. Three cross-shore zones with distinctive seedling dynamics were identified: (a) a zone with daily tidal inundation where seedling dynamics are episodic and limited by the dispersal of individual propagules that rapidly anchor to the substrate by root growth, (b) a zone with daily to bi-weekly tidal inundation where seedling dynamics respond to variations in spring-neap tidal cycles and, (c) a zone with less than bi-weekly inundation where seedling dynamics are governed by high propagule supply and seedling survival probability. The seedling establishment density and survival probability are dominated by annual extremes in tidal hydroperiod and bed shear stresses, respectively. The obtained parameterizations can be used to incorporate seedling dynamics in decadal-timescale mangrove forest development models that are instrumental for mangrove management and restoration.
Original languageEnglish
Article numbere2024JF007664
JournalJournal of geophysical research: Earth surface
Volume129
Issue number5
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 14 May 2024

Keywords

  • UT-Hybrid-D

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