A hurricane alters the relationship between mangrove cover and marine subsidies. Academic Article uri icon


  • As global change alters the composition and productivity of ecosystems, the importance of subsidies from one habitat to another may change. We experimentally manipulated black mangrove (Avicennia germinans) cover in 10 large plots and over a 5-year period (2014-2019) quantifying the effects of mangrove cover on subsidies of floating organic material (wrack) into coastal wetlands. As mangrove cover increased from 0% to 100%, wrack cover and thickness decreased by ~60%, the distance that wrack penetrated into the plots decreased by ~70%, and the percentage of the wrack trapped in the first 6m of the plot tripled. These patterns observed during 4 "normal" years disappeared in a fifth year following Hurricane Harvey (2017), when large quantities of wrack were pushed far into the interior of all the plots, regardless of mangrove cover. Prior to the storm, the abundance of animals collected in grab samples increased with wrack biomass. Wrack composition did not affect animal abundance or composition. Experimental outplants of two types of wrack (red algae and seagrass) revealed that animal abundance and species composition varied between the fringe and interior of the plots, and between microhabitats dominated by salt marsh versus mangrove vegetation. The importance of wrack to overall carbon stocks varied as a function of autochthonous productivity: wrack inputs (per m2 ) based on survey data were greater than aboveground plant biomass in the plots (4224m) dominated by salt-marsh vegetation, but decreased to 5% of the total aboveground biomass in plots dominated by mangroves. Our results illustrate that increasing mangrove cover decreases the relative importance of marine subsidies into the intertidal at the plot level, but concentrates subsidies at the front edge of the mangrove stand. Storms, however, may temporarily override mangrove attenuation of wrack inputs. Our results highlight the importance of understanding how changes in plant species composition due to global change will impact marine subsidies and exchanges among ecosystems, and foster a broader understanding of the functional interdependence of adjacent habitats within coastal ecosystems.

published proceedings

  • Ecology

altmetric score

  • 3.95

author list (cited authors)

  • Peng, D., Montelongo, D. C., Wu, L., Armitage, A. R., Kominoski, J. S., & Pennings, S. C.

citation count

  • 0

complete list of authors

  • Peng, Dan||Montelongo, Denise C||Wu, Leslie||Armitage, Anna R||Kominoski, John S||Pennings, Steven C

publication date

  • January 2022