Non-freezing cold event stresses can cause significant damage to mangrove seedlings: Assessing the role of warming and nitrogen enrichment in a mesocosm study

Environmental Research
By: , and 

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Abstract

Mangroves are expanding poleward along coastlines globally as a response to rising temperatures and reduced incidence of freezing under climate change. Yet, knowledge of mangrove responses to infrequent cold events in the context of future global and regional environmental changes is limited. We initiated a mesocosm experiment in which the seedlings of two mangrove species were grown either at ambient temperature or under warming with and without nitrogen (N) loading. During a short winter period, an unusually severe cold event occurred with the lowest temperature of 2°C. We assessed the possible response of these two mangrove species to the cold stress. We found that the cold event caused various degrees of damage to the seedlings of both mangrove species, with the warming treatment seemingly protecting leaves and branches from the cold damage. However, warming did not buffer mangroves to mortality from those low temperatures in either species. The cold event resulted in a significant decrease in seedling growth rates and net ecosystem CO2 uptake in the post-cold period relative to the pre-cold period, though the cold event did not alter the effects of warming on these parameters of both mangrove species. The cold event differentially altered physiological responses of the two species growing under N loading, with A. marina growing in higher N concentrations having a reduced growth response after the cold event, whereas B. gymnorrhiza displayed no change in post-cold period versus pre-cold period growth. Our findings suggest the pivotal role of cold events, versus freeze events, in regulating mangrove survival and growth even under future warming scenarios. Two mangrove species exhibited differential survival and growth responses to the cold event at different N concentrations, which has implications for how we can restore and conserve mangroves among the world's eutrophied sub-tropical estuaries and with future warming.

Additional publication details

Publication type Article
Publication Subtype Journal Article
Title Non-freezing cold event stresses can cause significant damage to mangrove seedlings: Assessing the role of warming and nitrogen enrichment in a mesocosm study
Series title Environmental Research
DOI 10.1088/2515-7620/ab7a77
Volume 2
Year Published 2020
Language English
Publisher IOPScience
Contributing office(s) Wetland and Aquatic Research Center
Description 031003, 13 p.
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