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The productivity of mangroves in northwestern Mexico: a meta-analysis of current data

López-Medellín, Xavier, Ezcurra, Exequiel
Journal of coastal conservation 2012 v.16 no.3 pp. 399-403
Laguncularia racemosa, Rhizophora mangle, correlation, ecosystems, energy transfer, human communities, human population, meta-analysis, organic matter, organic production, population growth, Mexico
Mangroves constitute highly productive ecosystems that export organic material to surrounding areas. They reach their northernmost distribution on the American Pacific coast in arid northwestern Mexico where they grow under sub-optimal conditions. Nevertheless, they maintain high litterfall rates with important ecological and economical implications. These mangroves are threatened by the region’s accelerated development and population growth. In order to explore and describe large-scale patterns in the production of organic material and to assess their importance in the productivity of coastal ecosystems, we performed a meta-analysis of studies that measured mangrove litterfall in northwestern Mexico. We found that litterfall is strongly associated with latitude, and that evaporation was negatively correlated with it. Additionally, we found high correlation between the presence of Rhizophora mangle and productivity, while the presence of Laguncularia racemosa, showed a less pronounced trend. Despite the harsh conditions, mangroves produce high amounts of organic matter, which is perhaps the most important service of mangroves in these coasts. Their capacity to produce organic matter contrasts with that of their surrounding ecosystems. Substantial reductions in their surface will have consequences for the exchange of energy at the land-sea transition, which will be detrimental for biological communities and human populations.