Stunted Mangrove Trees in the Oligotrophic Central Red Sea Relate to Nitrogen Limitation

Mangroves are important coastal ecosystems of warm climatic regions that often grow in shallow saline or brackish waters of estuaries and river mouths which are affected by wide tidal intervals and receive abundant nutrient supply. However, mangroves also occur in areas of little tidal influence and devoid of riverine inputs, where they can develop a stunted plant form. Here we report that Avicennia marina trees in the fringe of the Red Sea have maximum heights toward the lower range of that reported elsewhere (average maximum canopy height of 4.95 m), especially in the central region, where mangroves are stunted with an average tree height of 2.7 m. Maximum tree height and chlorophyll a concentration correlated positively with nitrogen concentration in the leaves of A. marina. We conclude that the stunted nature of mangrove trees in the central Red Sea is likely driven by nitrogen limitation.

Anton, A., Almahasheer, H., Delgado, A., Garcias-Bonet, N., Carrillo-de-Albornoz, P., Marbà, N., … Duarte, C. M. (2020). Stunted Mangrove Trees in the Oligotrophic Central Red Sea Relate to Nitrogen Limitation. Frontiers in Marine Science, 7. doi:10.3389/fmars.2020.00597

We thank Vijayalaxmi Dasari, Isidora Mendia Saez de Zuazola, Mongi Ennasri, Joao Curdia, and Arsenio Granados for support in the laboratory analyses, Brian Hession, CMOR, and the RV Thuwal crew for logistical support, and Nathan Geraldi for comments on early drafts of the manuscript. Funding. This research was supported by the King Abdullah University of Science and Technology through baseline funding and funds by the Tarek Ahmed Juffali Research Chair in Red Sea Ecology to CD.

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