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Abiotic water quality control on mangrove distribution in estuarine river channels assessed by a novel boat-mounted electromagneticinduction technique

Melissa A Atwell, Mark N Wuddivira, Judith F Gobin

Abstract


Due to climate change impacts and the resulting sea-level rise, saline waters have been found further inland in tropical riverine estuaries such as the Godineau wetland, Trinidad. The saline water intrusion could constrain mangrove vegetation distribution. We investigated the surface water quality of two river channels (2 km and 6 km), emanating from a tropical wetland and from forest/agriculture at high-tide, respectively. Using a novel boat-mounted geophysical approach, spatially exhaustive river/estuarine salinity data was collected. Water quality parameters – salinity, pH and dissolved oxygen (DO) – were compared with vegetation surveyed along the course of the rivers to determine relationships between plant zonation and water quality. Our findings showed similar trends for salinity and apparent electrical conductivity, which were higher in the 2 km channel (27.10 to 31.80 dS/m) than in the 6 km channel (17.80 to 27.10 dS/m), while pH and DO levels were lower in the 2 km channel than in the 6 km channel due to higher levels of decomposition in the stagnant shorter channel. Red mangrove (Rhizophora mangle) was found in areas with little oxygen, high salinities and high acidity, making it more adaptable to conditions resulting from saline intrusion. Therefore, to replace the mangrove that has been lost due to die-off, the red mangrove maybe used in viable restoration efforts for the protection of inland areas from floods, as well as to provide ecosystem goods and services.

Keywords: electromagnetic-induction, tropical wetland, water quality, mangrove distribution




http://dx.doi.org/10.4314/wsa.v42i3.04
AJOL African Journals Online