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Nurse species could facilitate the recruitment of mangrove seedlings after hydrological rehabilitation

Teutli-Hernández, Claudia, Herrera-Silveira, Jorge A, Comín, Francisco A., López, Margarita Menéndez
Ecological engineering 2019 v.130 pp. 263-270
Batis maritima, Laguncularia racemosa, Salicornia europaea, carbon, hydrology, nitrogen, nutrient content, organic matter, phosphorus, pioneer species, reforestation, salinity, secondary succession, sediments, seedlings, soil, vegetation, Mexico
Changes in hydrology are one of the main causes of mangrove degradation; however, the reforestation of mangrove has been the main restoration activity and very little information on how pioneer species can facilitate the colonization and development of the mangrove species is available. After carrying out a water reconnection as the sole restoration action, secondary succession has occurred in the mangrove rehabilitation area of Celestun (Yucatan, SE Mexico). Two pioneer species, Batis maritima and Salicornia virginica were observed in plots with different coverage (0%, 20%, 100%) where the three natural mangrove species were established, with Laguncularia racemosa as the dominant species in density. The greatest interstitial mean salinity (79.9g/kg) was recorded in the plots with 20% cover, while the lowest salinity (40.7g/kg) was recorded in the plots with 100% of coverage. At the end of sampling period nutrient content (carbon, nitrogen and phosphorus) and organic matter in the sediment were greatest in the plots with 100% cover, whereas the lowest concentrations were observed in the site devoid of vegetation. The percentage cover of S. virginica and B. maritima changed over time; in the plot that started with 100% cover it decreased until it disappeared at the end of the study period, whereas it increased in the plots with 20% and 0% cover. This study shows that B. maritima and S. virginica has a function as “facilitator species” initially colonizing the bare soil and modifying its conditions (decreasing interstitial salinity and increasing nutrient), which favored colonization and growing of mangrove seedlings.