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Sensitivity of mangrove range limits to climate variability

August 29, 2018


Correlative distribution models have been used to identify potential climatic controls of mangrove range limits, but there is still uncertainty about the relative importance of these factors across different regions. To provide insights into the strength of climatic control of different mangrove range limits, we tested whether temporal variability in mangrove abundance increases near range limits and whether this variability is correlated with climatic factors thought to control large‐scale mangrove distributions.


North and South America.

Time period


Major taxa studied

Avicennia germinans, Avicennia schuaeriana, Rhizophora mangle, Laguncularia racemosa.


We characterized temporal variability in the enhanced vegetation index (EVI) at mangrove range limits using Landsat satellite imagery collected between 1984–2011. We characterized greening trends at each range limit, examined variability in EVI along latitudinal gradients near each range limit, and assessed correlations between changes in EVI and temperature and precipitation.


Spatial variability in mean EVI was generally correlated with temperature and precipitation, but the relationships were region specific. Greening trends were most pronounced at range limits in eastern North America. In these regions variability in EVI increased toward the range limit and was sensitive to climatic factors. In contrast, EVI at range limits on the Pacific coast of North America and both coasts of South America was relatively stable and less sensitive to climatic variability.

Main conclusions

Our results suggest that range limits in eastern North America are strongly controlled by climate factors. Mangrove expansion in response to future warming is expected to be rapid in regions that are highly sensitive to climate variability (e.g. eastern North America), but the response in other range limits (e.g. South America) is likely to be more complex and modulated by additional factors such as dispersal limitation, habitat constraints, and/or changing climatic means rather than just extremes.

Citation Information

Publication Year 2018
Title Sensitivity of mangrove range limits to climate variability
DOI 10.1111/geb.12751
Authors Kyle C. Cavanaugh, Michael J. Osland, Rémi Bardou, Gustavo Hinojosa-Arango, Juan M. López-Vivas, John D. Parker, Andre S. Rovai
Publication Type Article
Publication Subtype Journal Article
Series Title Global Ecology and Biogeography
Index ID 70199020
Record Source USGS Publications Warehouse
USGS Organization Wetland and Aquatic Research Center