African Journal of Marine Science

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Effects of waterlogging, salinity and light on the productivity of Bruguiera gymnorrhiza and Heritiera littoralis seedlings

M.M. Mangora, M.S.P. Mtolera, M Björk


This study aimed to establish the effects of waterlogging, salinity and light on the early development of mangroves. Seedlings of Bruguiera gymnorrhiza (L.) Lamk. and Heritiera littoralis Dryand were exposed to 12 weeks of waterlogging, during which time growth and photosynthesis were measured every two weeks. The salinity of the water inundation ranged from fresh water to full-strength sea water (salinity 35). Seedlings were exposed to either full sunlight of 1 500 μmol photon m–2 s–1 (SD 397) at midday or shade conditions of 325 μmol photon m–2 s–1 (SD 40) of light at midday, to explore whether the plants would be differently affected by prolonged waterlogging in increased salinities and under different light conditions. Heritiera littoralis was more sensitive to waterlogging, salinity and light, displaying a least relative growth rate of 0.127 g g–1 week–1 (SE 0.032) under shade, and 0.025 g g–1 week–1 (SE 0.021) in full light; while under shade, photosynthesis continued only in fresh water, but photosynthetic yield decreased from 0.7 to 0.4 with increasing duration of waterlogging. By 12 weeks, all H. littoralis seedlings treated with any saltwater mixture had died. Bruguiera gymnorrhiza seedlings maintained a moderate rate of photosynthesis throughout inundation in both shade and full light, with yields of 0.7 and 0.3, respectively. Furthermore, B. gymnorrhiza survived waterlogging in up to 66% seawater, and maintained comparable relative growth rates of 0.164 g g–1 week–1 (SE 0.066) with 0.083 g g–1 week–1 (SE 0.065) and 0.074 g g–1 week–1 (SE 0.036) with 0.052 g g–1 week–1 (SE 0.037) under shade and in full light between fresh water and the highest salinity conditions, respectively. These results suggest that B. gymnorrhiza is broadly tolerant, making it a potential candidate species for restoring vulnerable mangrove forests.

Keywords: ecophysiology, growth, mangrove forests, mesocosm experiment, photosynthetic yield, survival
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