Draft 2: A Brief Review and Assessment of Mangrove Zonation Hypotheses

This topic submitted by bradley higgins martin ( martinbh@miamioh.edu) at 4:47 PM on 3/23/05.

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A Brief Review and Assessment of Mangrove Zonation Hypotheses

I. Mangrove basics
a. Definitions- assemblage of tropical trees and shrubs that grow in the intertidal zone. Mangrove: non-taxonomical term—broad term used to describe diverse group of plants adapted to a wet-saline environment.
i. Tomlinson (1986) “true/strict” definition
1. Complete fidelity to mangrove environment
2. Major role in structure of the community and has the ability to form pure stands
3. Morphological specializations
4. Physiological specialization
5. Taxonomic isolation from terrestrial relatives
ii. Distribution
1. 34 species between 30 degrees N and S (8 in Western , 5 in Costa Rica)
2. Limitations on Distribution
a. Climate
b. Inundation of Saltwater
c. Salinity
d. Tidal Fluctuation
e. Sediment & Wave energy
iii. Speciation
1. Distinguishable by variation in Morphology, physiology, reproductive biology:
a. Growth form
b. Bark
c. Structure of leaves/rings
d. Twigs
e. Aerial roots
f. Flowers & fruits
g. propagules
II. Mangrove Zonation—Mangroves have been noted for spatial variation
a. Definitive zonation
i. Monospecific bands
ii. Parallel to shoreline
iii. General pattern of zonation depicts a pattern that extends from shore to inland regions (usually higher in elevation).
iv. Zonation patterns appear regional. Large degree of variation occurs among similar species.
1. Florida vs. Australia example
b. Dominant Hypotheses
i. Zonation reflects land building and plant succession (Davis 1940)
ii. Geomorphological processes cause zonation (Thom 1976)
iii. Propagule dispersal creates zonation (Babinowitz 1978)
iv. Differential predation of propagules (Smith 1987, McKee 1995)
v. Physiologic specialization (Ball 1988, McKee 1993, 1995)
vi. Interspecific competition (Ball 1980)
c. Hypothesis Assessment
i. Brief examination of merits and flaws of each hypothesis
ii. What does the data tell us?


Ball, M.C. 1980. Patterns of secondary succession in a mangrove forest in southern Florida. Oceologica (Berlin) 44: 226-235.

Ball, M.C. 1988. Ecophysiology of mangroves. Trees 2: 129-142.

Chapin, F. Stuart, et al. 2002. Principles of terrestrial ecosystem ecology. Springer-Verlag. New York.

Davis, J.H. 1940. The ecology and geologic role of mangroves in Florida. Publications of the Carnegie Institute, Washington, DC. Publication no. 517.

Feller, Iika C. and Sitnik, Marsha. 1996. Mangrove ecology workshop manual. Smithsonian Institute.

Kricher, John. 1997. A neotropical companion. Princeton UP. Princeton.

McKee, K.L. 1993. Soil physicochemical patterns and mangrove species distribution: reciprocal effects? J of Ecology 81: 477-487.

Mckee, K.L. 1995. Seedling recruitment patterns in a Belizean mangrove forest: effects of establishment ability and physico-chemical factors. Oecologia 101: 448-460.

Rabinowitz, D. 1978. Dispersal properties of mangrove propagules. Biotropica 10: 47-57.

Smith, T.J III. 1987. Seed predation in relation to tree dominance and distribution in mangrove forests. Ecology 68: 266-273.

Thom, B.G. 1967. Mangrove ecology and deltaic geomorphology: Tabasco, Mexico. J of Ecology 55: 301-343.

Tomlinson, P.B. 1986. The botany of mangroves. Cambridge UP. Cambridge, UK.

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