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The University of Texas at Austin

Publication Date

Fall 2023

Program Name

Panama: Tropical Ecology, Marine Ecosystems, and Biodiversity Conservation


Mangrove forests, at the intersection of land and sea, are considered one of the most important marine environments for their variety of ecosystem services and their ability to sequester large amounts of carbon in their biomass and adjacent soils. With a changing climate, many of the abiotic and biotic factors influencing mangroves will begin to shift, potentially impacting resilience, growth capacity, and distribution of mangroves worldwide. This study aimed to examine the influence of changing salinity on the carbon stock capacity for Rhizophora mangle and Laguncularia racemosa forests, and the distribution of biomass in each species relative to salinity in mangrove forests in Bocas del Toro, Panamá. Understanding site-specific influence of abiotic factors is important for understanding mangrove resiliency in understudied areas. 15 radial plots were studied in mangrove forests near Ground Creek on Isla Colon, Bocas del Toro, Panamá to understand this relationship. Plots established represented three salinity zones (0-10 ppt, 10-20 ppt, and 20-30 ppt) and three sites (fringe forest, intermediate forests, and inland forest). DBH and height measurements were taken for all trees in each plot and used to calculate biomass and subsequently carbon stock per hectare. Carbon stock per hectare was related to salinity and site and no significant results were found, however significant differences were found between the individual biomass of R. mangle based on salinity zone (p = 0.0302). This indicates that overall carbon stock of mangrove forests in the Ground Creek could be resilient to future changes in sea level and land distribution, but rising salinity could have impact on individual growth parameters such as biomass, height, and DBH. Further inquiry is needed on the influence of salinity and site on individual tree carbon stock in the area to draw concrete conclusions.


Botany | Climate | Forest Biology | Latin American Studies | Plant Biology | Terrestrial and Aquatic Ecology


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