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A 7 year record of above-ground net primary production in a southeastern Mexican mangrove forest

March 19, 1999

Spatial and temporal variations in net above-ground primary production (NPP) and litter turnover rate were studied, from 1987 to 1993, in a mangrove forest bordering Laguna de Terminos, Mexico. NPP, the sum of total litter fall and wood production, was measured over the entire study period in three zones in a basin forest: zone I, where Rhizophora mangle (red mangrove) occurs but Avicennia germinans (black mangrove) is the dominant species; zone II, a scrub forest of A. germinans; zone III, where larger A. germinans trees occur. In 1991, a fringe zone dominated by A. germinans and R. mangle was added to the study. Three distinctive climatic seasons occur in the region: rainy, dry, and cold front (locally named ‘nortes’). Average total litter fall in the fringe zone (793 g m−2year−1) was significantly higher than in the basin forest (496, 307, and 410 g m−2 year−1 for basin zones I, II, and III, respectively). All zones showed significant differences among seasons with the norte season having significantly lower litter fall. Litter turnover rates were about 7 months in zones I and II and 10 months in zone III, reflecting the low tidal range that occurs in the basin forest. Low litter turnover rates in the basin forest were reflected in a high organic matter standing crop. Annual average stem growth was significantly higher in zones I and III (1.27 and 1.36 kg per tree year−1, respectively) than in zone II (0.62 kg per tree year−1). Above-ground NPP rates in the basin forest (399–695 g m−2 year−1) were lower than in fringe and riverine forests, reflecting patterns of litter fall and wood production. There was no seasonal variation in soil salinity but the basin forest had significantly higher soil salinity than the fringe forest. Spatially, mean soil salinity was inversely related to litter fall. Long-term patterns in soil salinity, precipitation and air temperature explained 74% of the inter-annual litter fall variability. Over the 7 year study, productivity in zone II was more variable than in zones I and III, and productivity (litter fall and wood growth) were less variable than litter standing crop and turnover.