Nutrient enrichment intensifies hurricane impact in scrub mangrove ecosystems in the Indian River Lagoon, Florida, USA

Feller, Ilka C., Dangremond, Emily M., Devlin, Donna J., Lovelock, Catherine E., Proffitt, C. Edward and Rodriguez, Wilfrid (2015) Nutrient enrichment intensifies hurricane impact in scrub mangrove ecosystems in the Indian River Lagoon, Florida, USA. Ecology, 96 11: 2960-2972. doi:10.1890/14-1853.1

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Author Feller, Ilka C.
Dangremond, Emily M.
Devlin, Donna J.
Lovelock, Catherine E.
Proffitt, C. Edward
Rodriguez, Wilfrid
Title Nutrient enrichment intensifies hurricane impact in scrub mangrove ecosystems in the Indian River Lagoon, Florida, USA
Journal name Ecology   Check publisher's open access policy
ISSN 0012-9658
1939-9170
Publication date 2015-11-01
Year available 2015
Sub-type Article (original research)
DOI 10.1890/14-1853.1
Open Access Status File (Publisher version)
Volume 96
Issue 11
Start page 2960
End page 2972
Total pages 13
Place of publication Hoboken, NJ, United States
Publisher John Wiley & Sons
Language eng
Abstract Mangroves are an ecological assemblage of trees and shrubs adapted to grow in intertidal environments along tropical, subtropical, and warm temperate coasts. Despite repeated demonstrations of their ecologic and economic value, multiple stressors including nutrient over-enrichment threaten these and other coastal wetlands globally. These ecosystems will be further stressed if tropical storm intensity and frequency increase in response to global climate changes. These stressors will likely interact, but the outcome of that interaction is uncertain. Here, we examined potential interaction between nutrient over-enrichment and the September 2004 hurricanes. Hurricanes Frances and Jeanne made landfall along Florida's Indian River Lagoon and caused extensive damage to a long-term fertilization experiment in a mangrove forest, which previously revealed that productivity was nitrogen (N) limited across the forest and, in particular, that N enrichment dramatically increased growth rates and aboveground biomass of stunted Avicennia germinans trees in the interior scrub zone. During the hurricanes, these trees experienced significant defoliation with three to four times greater reduction in leaf area index (LAI) than control trees. Over the long term, the +N scrub trees took four years to recover compared to two years for controls. In the adjacent fringe and transition zones, LAI was reduced by >70%, but with no differences based on zone or fertilization treatment. Despite continued delayed mortality for at least five years after the storms, LAI in the fringe and transition returned to pre-hurricane conditions in two years. Thus, nutrient over-enrichment of the coastal zone will increase the productivity of scrub mangroves, which dominate much of the mangrove landscape in Florida and the Caribbean; however, that benefit is offset by a decrease in their resistance and resilience to hurricane damage that has the potential to destabilize the system.
Formatted abstract
Mangroves are an ecological assemblage of trees and shrubs adapted to grow in intertidal environments along tropical, subtropical, and warm temperate coasts. Despite repeated demonstrations of their ecologic and economic value, multiple stressors including nutrient over-enrichment threaten these and other coastal wetlands globally. These ecosystems will be further stressed if tropical storm intensity and frequency increase in response to global climate changes. These stressors will likely interact, but the outcome of that interaction is uncertain. Here, we examined potential interaction between nutrient over-enrichment and the September 2004 hurricanes. Hurricanes Frances and Jeanne made landfall along Florida's Indian River Lagoon and caused extensive damage to a long-term fertilization experiment in a mangrove forest, which previously revealed that productivity was nitrogen (N) limited across the forest and, in particular, that N enrichment dramatically increased growth rates and aboveground biomass of stunted Avicennia germinans trees in the interior scrub zone. During the hurricanes, these trees experienced significant defoliation with three to four times greater reduction in leaf area index (LAI) than control trees. Over the long term, the +N scrub trees took four years to recover compared to two years for controls. In the adjacent fringe and transition zones, LAI was reduced by >70%, but with no differences based on zone or fertilization treatment. Despite continued delayed mortality for at least five years after the storms, LAI in the fringe and transition returned to pre-hurricane conditions in two years. Thus, nutrient over-enrichment of the coastal zone will increase the productivity of scrub mangroves, which dominate much of the mangrove landscape in Florida and the Caribbean; however, that benefit is offset by a decrease in their resistance and resilience to hurricane damage that has the potential to destabilize the system.
Keyword Coarse woody debris
Delayed mortality
Disturbance
Florida
Growth rate
Hurricane
Q-Index Code C1
Q-Index Status Provisional Code
Grant ID NNX11AO94G
EF1065821
Institutional Status UQ

Document type: Journal Article
Sub-type: Article (original research)
Collections: Official 2016 Collection
School of Biological Sciences Publications
 
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