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Concept: Mangrove


There is increasing recognition of the long-lasting effects of tsunamis on human populations. This is particularly notable along tectonically active coastlines with repeated inundations occurring over thousands of years. Given the often high death tolls reported from historical events though it is remarkable that so few human skeletal remains have been found in the numerous palaeotsunami deposits studied to date. The 1929 discovery of the Aitape Skull in northern Papua New Guinea and its inferred late Pleistocene age played an important role in discussions about the origins of humans in Australasia for over 25 years until it was more reliably radiocarbon dated to around 6000 years old. However, no similar attention has been given to reassessing the deposit in which it was found-a coastal mangrove swamp inundated by water from a shallow sea. With the benefit of knowledge gained from studies of the 1998 tsunami in the same area, we conclude that the skull was laid down in a tsunami deposit and as such may represent the oldest known tsunami victim in the world. These findings raise the question of whether other coastal archaeological sites with human skeletal remains would benefit from a re-assessment of their geological context.

Concepts: Human, Indonesia, Pacific Ocean, Papua New Guinea, Tsunami, Pleistocene, New Guinea, Mangrove


BACKGROUND: Mangroves are ecologically important and highly threatened forest communities. Observational and genetic evidence has confirmed the long distance dispersal capacity of water-dispersed mangrove seeds, but less is known about the relative importance of pollen vs. seed gene flow in connecting populations. We analyzed 980 Avicennia germinans for 11 microsatellite loci and 940 Rhizophora mangle for six microsatellite loci and subsampled two non-coding cpDNA regions in order to understand population structure, and gene flow within and among four major estuaries on the Caribbean and Pacific coasts of Panama. RESULTS: Both species showed similar rates of outcrossing (t= 0.7 in A. germinans and 0.8 in R. mangle) and strong patterns of spatial genetic structure within estuaries, although A. germinans had greater genetic structure in nuclear and cpDNA markers (7 demes > 4 demes and Sp= 0.02 > 0.002), and much greater cpDNA diversity (Hd= 0.8 > 0.2) than R. mangle. The Central American Isthmus serves as an exceptionally strong barrier to gene flow, with high levels nuclear (FST= 0.3-0.5) and plastid (FST= 0.5-0.8) genetic differentiation observed within each species between coasts and no shared cpDNA haplotypes between species on each coast. Finally, evidence of low ratios of pollen to seed dispersal (r = -0.6 in A. germinans and 7.7 in R. mangle), coupled with the strong observed structure in nuclear and plastid DNA among most estuaries, suggests low levels of gene flow in these mangrove species. CONCLUSIONS: We conclude that gene dispersal in mangroves is usually limited within estuaries and that coastal geomorphology and rare long distance dispersal events could also influence levels of structure.

Concepts: DNA, Biology, Population, Biological dispersal, Mangrove, Avicennia germinans, Rhizophora mangle, Rhizophora


The Sundarbans, the largest mangrove ecosystem in the world, is under threat from historical and future human exploitation and sea level rise. Limited scientific knowledge on the spatial ecology of the mangroves in this world heritage ecosystem has been a major impediment to conservation efforts. Here, for the first time, we report on habitat suitability analyses and spatial density maps for the four most prominent mangrove species - Heritiera fomes, Excoecaria agallocha, Ceriops decandra and Xylocarpus mekongensis. Globally endangered H. fomes abundances declined as salinity increased. Responses to nutrients, elevation, and stem density varied between species. H. fomes and X. mekongensis preferred upstream habitats. E. agallocha and C. decandra preferred down-stream and mid-stream habitats. Historical harvesting had negative influences on H. fomes, C. decandra and X. mekongensis abundances. The established protected area network does not support the most suitable habitats of these threatened species. We therefore recommend a reconfiguration of the network to include these suitable habitats and ensure their immediate protection. These novel habitat insights and spatial predictions can form the basis for future forest studies and spatial conservation planning, and have implications for more effective conservation of the Sundarbans mangroves and the many other species that rely on them.

Concepts: Ecology, Bangladesh, West Bengal, Tiger, Sundarbans, Biodiversity Action Plan, Mangrove, Mangroves


Incorporating the values of the services that ecosystems provide into decision making is becoming increasingly common in nature conservation and resource management policies, both locally and globally. Yet with limited funds for conservation of threatened species and ecosystems there is a desire to identify priority areas where investment efficiently conserves multiple ecosystem services. We mapped four mangrove ecosystems services (coastal protection, fisheries, biodiversity, and carbon storage) across Fiji. Using a cost-effectiveness analysis, we prioritised mangrove areas for each service, where the effectiveness was a function of the benefits provided to the local communities, and the costs were associated with restricting specific uses of mangroves. We demonstrate that, although priority mangrove areas (top 20%) for each service can be managed at relatively low opportunity costs (ranging from 4.5 to 11.3% of overall opportunity costs), prioritising for a single service yields relatively low co-benefits due to limited geographical overlap with priority areas for other services. None-the-less, prioritisation of mangrove areas provides greater overlap of benefits than if sites were selected randomly for most ecosystem services. We discuss deficiencies in the mapping of ecosystems services in data poor regions and how this may impact upon the equity of managing mangroves for particular services across the urban-rural divide in developing countries. Finally we discuss how our maps may aid decision-makers to direct funding for mangrove management from various sources to localities that best meet funding objectives, as well as how this knowledge can aid in creating a national mangrove zoning scheme.

Concepts: Biodiversity, Costs, Ecology, Ecosystem, Management, Conservation, Biodiversity Action Plan, Mangrove


Regional warming associated with climate change is linked with altered range and abundance of species and ecosystems worldwide. However, the ecological impacts of changes in the frequency of extreme events have not been as well documented, especially for coastal and marine environments. We used 28 y of satellite imagery to demonstrate that the area of mangrove forests has doubled at the northern end of their historic range on the east coast of Florida. This expansion is associated with a reduction in the frequency of “extreme” cold events (days colder than -4 °C), but uncorrelated with changes in mean annual temperature, mean annual precipitation, and land use. Our analyses provide evidence for a threshold response, with declining frequency of severe cold winter events allowing for poleward expansion of mangroves. Future warming may result in increases in mangrove cover beyond current latitudinal limits of mangrove forests, thereby altering the structure and function of these important coastal ecosystems.

Concepts: Ecology, Precipitation, Climate, Soil, Ecosystem, Coast, Global warming, Mangrove


Given their relatively small area, mangroves and their organic sediments are of disproportionate importance to global carbon sequestration and carbon storage. Peat deposition and preservation allows some mangroves to accrete vertically and keep pace with sea-level rise by growing on their own root remains. In this study we show that mangroves in desert inlets in the coasts of the Baja California have been accumulating root peat for nearly 2,000 y and harbor a belowground carbon content of 900-34,00 Mg C/ha, with an average value of 1,130 (± 128) Mg C/ha, and a belowground carbon accumulation similar to that found under some of the tallest tropical mangroves in the Mexican Pacific coast. The depth-age curve for the mangrove sediments of Baja California indicates that sea level in the peninsula has been rising at a mean rate of 0.70 mm/y (± 0.07) during the last 17 centuries, a value similar to the rates of sea-level rise estimated for the Caribbean during a comparable period. By accreting on their own accumulated peat, these desert mangroves store large amounts of carbon in their sediments. We estimate that mangroves and halophyte scrubs in Mexico’s arid northwest, with less than 1% of the terrestrial area, store in their belowground sediments around 28% of the total belowground carbon pool of the whole region.

Concepts: Water, Coast, Arithmetic mean, California, Pacific Ocean, Mexico, Carbon capture and storage, Mangrove


Three limonoids named thaixylomolins A-C (1-3), featuring two new motifs, were isolated from the seeds of a Thai mangrove, Xylocarpus moluccensis. The absolute configurations of these limonoids were determined by extensive NMR investigations, single-crystal X-ray diffraction analysis, and circular-dichroism spectroscopy in combination with quantum-chemical calculations. Thaixylomolin B exhibited inhibitory activity against nitric oxide production in lipopolysaccharide and IFN-γ-induced RAW264.7 murine macrophages with an IC50 value of 84.3 μM.

Concepts: Diffraction, X-ray, Crystallography, X-ray crystallography, Nitric oxide, Bragg diffraction, Powder diffraction, Mangrove


Eleven new diterpenes, named decandrins A-K (1-11), including nine abietanes (1-9) and two podocarpanes (10-11), were isolated from the barks of an Indian mangrove, Ceriops decandra, collected in the mangrove swamp of Godavari estuary, Andhra Pradesh, together with four known abietanes. The structures of these compounds were established on the basis of spectroscopic data (new compounds) or comparison with data in the literature (known compounds). This is the first report of abietane and podocarpane diterpenoids from C. decandra.

Concepts: India, Tamil Nadu, Bay of Bengal, Mangrove, Andhra Pradesh, Telangana, Krishna River, Godavari River


The specialized salt glands on the epidermis of halophytic plants secrete excess salts from tissues by a mechanism that is poorly understood. We examined the salt glands as putative salt and water bi-regulatory units that can respond swiftly to altering environmental cues. The tropical mangrove tree species (Avicennia officinalis) is able to grow under fluctuating salinities (0.7-50 dS/m) at intertidal zones, and its salt glands offer an excellent platform to investigate their dynamic responses under rapidly changing salinities. Utilizing a novel epidermal peel system, secretion profiles of hundreds of individual salt glands examined revealed that these glands could secrete when exposed to varying salinities. Notably, rhythmic fluctuations observed in secretion rates were reversibly inhibited by water channel (aquaporin) blocker, and two aquaporin genes (PIP and TIP) preferentially expressed in the salt gland cells were rapidly induced in response to increasing salt concentration. We propose that aquaporins are involved and contribute to the re-absorption of water during salt removal in A. officinalis salt glands. This constitutes an adaptive feature that contributes to salt balance of trees growing in saline environments where freshwater availability is limited.

Concepts: Plant, Secretion, Water, Tree, Gland, Glands, Intertidal zone, Mangrove


• Premise of the study: Xylem sap osmolality and salinity is a critical unresolved issue in plant function with impacts on transport efficiency, pressure gradients, and living cell turgor pressure, especially for halophytes such as mangrove trees.• Methods: We collected successive xylem vessel sap samples from stems and shoots of Avicennia germinans and Laguncularia racemosa using vacuum and pressure extraction and measured their osmolality. Following a series of extractions with the pressure chamber, we depressurized the shoot and pressurized again after various equilibration periods (minutes to hours) to test for dynamic control of osmolality. Transpiration and final sap osmolality were measured in shoots perfused with deionized water or different seawater dilutions.• Key results: For both species, the sap osmolality values of consecutive samples collected by vacuum extraction were stable and matched those of the initial samples extracted with the pressure chamber. Further extraction of samples with the pressure chamber decreased sap osmolality, suggesting reverse osmosis occurred. However, sap osmolalities increased when longer equilibration periods after sap extraction were allowed. Analysis of expressed sap with HPLC indicated a 1:1 relation between measured osmolality and the osmolality of the inorganic ions in the sap (mainly Na(+), K(+), and Cl(-)), suggesting no contamination by organic compounds. In stems perfused with deionized water, the sap osmolality increased to mimic the native sap osmolality.• Conclusions: Xylem sap osmolality and ionic contents are dynamically adjusted by mangroves and may help modulate turgor pressure, hydraulic conductivity, and water potential, thus being important for mangrove physiology, survival, and distribution.

Concepts: Water, Plant physiology, Xylem, Osmotic pressure, Mangrove, Avicennia germinans, Water potential, Mangroves