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Variation in mangrove forest structure and sediment characteristics in Bocas del Toro, Panama

Caribbean Journal of Science

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Abstract

Mangrove forest structure and sediment characteristics were examined in the extensive mangroves of Bocas del Toro, Republic of Panama. Forest structure was characterized to determine if spatial vegetation patterns were repeated over the Bocas del Toro landscape. Using a series of permanent plots and transects we found that the forests of Bocas del Toro were dominated by Rhizophora mangle with very few individuals of Avicennia germinans and Laguncularia racemosa. Despite this low species diversity, there was large variation in forest structure and in edaphic conditions (salinity, concentration of available phosphorus, Eh and sulphide concentration). Aboveground biomass varied 20-fold, from 6.8 Mg ha-1 in dwarf forests to 194.3 Mg ha-1 in the forests fringing the land. But variation in forest structure was predictable across the intertidal zone. There was a strong tree height gradient from seaward fringe (mean tree height 3.9 m), decreasing in stature in the interior dwarf forests (mean tree height 0.7 m), and increasing in stature in forests adjacent to the terrestrial forest (mean tree height 4.1 m). The predictable variation in forest structure emerges due to the complex interactions among edaphic and plant factors. Identifying predictable patterns in forest structure will aid in scaling up the ecosystem services provided by mangrove forests in coastal landscapes. Copyright 2005 College of Arts and Sciences.

Additional Publication Details

Publication type:
Article
Publication Subtype:
Journal Article
Title:
Variation in mangrove forest structure and sediment characteristics in Bocas del Toro, Panama
Series title:
Caribbean Journal of Science
Volume
41
Issue:
3
Year Published:
2005
Language:
English
Larger Work Type:
Article
Larger Work Subtype:
Journal Article
Larger Work Title:
Caribbean Journal of Science
First page:
456
Last page:
464
Number of Pages:
9