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The University of Maryland

Publication Date

Fall 2022

Program Name

Panama: Tropical Ecology, Marine Ecosystems, and Biodiversity Conservation


As mangrove forests are destroyed by human factors across the earth, many crucial ecological processes that take place in these systems of trees are obstructed. One of the most important roles played by mangroves is their ability to sequester carbon in the sediment, as this storage of carbon helps diminish atmospheric warming. Many sediment microorganisms help in this process of carbon sequestration and play various other vital roles in mangrove ecosystems. Microorganisms in marine sediments can be used to assess the health of the surrounding environment. Past research has found significant differences in sediment microorganism composition, abundance, and diversity in relation to varying levels of human pollution. This research aimed to observe the differences in microorganism makeup in Laguncularia racemosa sediment in Bocas del Toro, Panama, between sites of perceived low, medium, and high anthropogenic influence. The data collected was not statistically significant due to the limited scope and lack of controlled environment, but revealed a difference in bacterial abundance, microorganism percent composition, diversity, and evenness between the three sites of perceived low, medium, and high anthropogenic impact. There was also a difference in average biomass of bacteria and protozoa observed between the three sites. These results differ from past literature on the topic of specific increases or decreases of these factors, but align with research asserting an observed difference in marine sediment microorganism composition and abundance between sites of varying levels of anthropogenic impact. Future studies may quantify and isolate relationships between sediment microorganisms and environmental pollution levels.


Bacteriology | Climate | Environmental Indicators and Impact Assessment | Forest Biology | Latin American Studies | Oceanography | Sedimentology


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