The longevity of viviparous mangrove seedlings (propagules) in seawater is a key factor determining their ability to survive dispersal both locally and across large expanses of ocean. The purpose of this experiment was to determine the maximum longevities of propagules from two common Pacific mangrove species: Rhizophora mucronata Lamk. and Rhizophora apiculata Bl. Propagules from each of these species were placed in outdoor tubs with continously flowing seawater. The condition of each propagule was monitored until it sank or started to rot. Propagules were then planted to determine viability. After planting, 50% of R. apiculata propagules and 21% of R. mucronata propagules were viable. For both species, mortality of propagules was strongly related to the length of the floating interval. Maximum longevities for R. mucronata and R. apiculata propagules were 150 (median = 70) and 89 days (median = 7), respectively. Rhizophora mucronata propagules appeared to be better equipped for long-distance dispersal, yet had low survivorship that would decrease overall dispersal opportunities. In comparison, R. apiculata propagules had higher survivorship yet shorter longevity and, thus, appeared to be better equipped for shorter distance dispersal.
Additional publication details
Maximum longevities of Rhizophora apiculata and R. mucronata propagules