MEPS - Vol. 440- Feature article

This Avicennia Alba seedling must cross 3 definable root-length thresholds in order to become successfully established

Balke T, Bouma TJ, Horstman EM, Webb EL, Erftemeijer PLA, Herman PMJ

 

Windows of opportunity: thresholds to mangrove seedling establishment on tidal flats

 

Mangrove populations are rapidly declining worldwide, and restoration is notoriously difficult. Balke and colleagues show that seedling establishment of the pioneer-tree Avicennia alba requires successfully crossing three thresholds: (1) an inundation-free period, in which the stranded propagules rapidly develop roots to withstand displacement by flooding, (2) a period of rapid root growth, which enables the seedling to progressively withstand dislodgement by hydrodynamic forces (the waves and currents that can be withstood being proportional to the root length reached at a particular moment), and (3) reaching sufficient root length to survive sheet erosion during storms. The establishment of mangrove pioneers requires a window of opportunity to pass all 3 thresholds. This underlines the need for a mechanistic understanding of the bio-physical interactions in order to successfully manage and restore mangrove ecosystems.

 

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