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Title: Water levels primarily drive variation in photosynthesis and nutrient use of scrub Red Mangroves in the southeastern Florida Everglades
Abstract We investigated how mangrove-island micro-elevation (i.e., habitat: center vs edge) affects tree physiology in a scrub mangrove forest of the southeastern Everglades. We measured leaf gas exchange rates of scrub Rhizophora mangle L. trees monthly during 2019, hypothesizing that CO2 assimilation (Anet) and stomatal conductance (gsw) would decline with increasing water levels and salinity, expecting more considerable differences at mangrove-island edges than centers, where physiological stress is greatest. Water levels varied between 0 and 60 cm from the soil surface, rising during the wet season (May–October) relative to the dry season (November–April). Porewater salinity ranged from 15 to 30 p.p.t., being higher at mangrove-island edges than centers. Anet maximized at 15.1 μmol m−2 s−1, and gsw was typically <0.2 mol m−2 s−1, both of which were greater in the dry than the wet season and greater at island centers than edges, with seasonal variability being roughly equal to variation between habitats. After accounting for season and habitat, water level positively affected Anet in both seasons but did not affect gsw. Our findings suggest that inundation stress (i.e., water level) is the primary driver of variation in leaf gas exchange rates of scrub mangroves in the Florida Everglades, while also constraining Anet more than gsw. The interaction between inundation stress due to permanent flooding and habitat varies with season as physiological stress is alleviated at higher-elevation mangrove-island center habitats during the dry season. Freshwater inflows during the wet season increase water levels and inundation stress at higher-elevation mangrove-island centers, but also potentially alleviate salt and sulfide stress in soils. Thus, habitat heterogeneity leads to differences in nutrient and water acquisition and use between trees growing in island centers versus edges, creating distinct physiological controls on photosynthesis, which likely affect carbon flux dynamics of scrub mangroves in the Everglades.  more » « less
Award ID(s):
2025954 1832229
Author(s) / Creator(s):
; ; ; ;
Ball, Marilyn
Date Published:
Journal Name:
Tree Physiology
Page Range / eLocation ID:
797 to 814
Medium: X
Sponsoring Org:
National Science Foundation
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