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    Intertidal substrate modification as a result of mangrove planting: impacts of introduced mangrove species on sediment microfacies characteristics

    Perry, Christopher T. and Berkeley, Andrew (2009) Intertidal substrate modification as a result of mangrove planting: impacts of introduced mangrove species on sediment microfacies characteristics. coastal and shelf science, 81 (2). pp. 225-237. ISSN 1096-0015

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    A programme of mangrove planting has been undertaken around the island of Rodrigues (SW Indian Ocean) since the mid-1980’s involving the introduction of the species Rhizophora mucronata. We examined three coastal embayment sites (Baie Diamant, Anse Goeland and Anse Pansia) in which planting has been undertaken over different time periods within the past 20 years. Planting has met with variable success in the different sites, probably due to variations in fluvial and groundwater influence. At two sites (Baie Diamant – first planted in 1990, and Anse Pansia – first planted in 1995) ecological data indicates that the mangroves are becoming well-established, and sedimentary evidence suggests that relatively rapid modification of intertidal substrates has occurred. This is evident in the form of significant increases in sediment organic-matter content (especially fibrous organic-matter) and an increase in the accumulation of sediment fines inside the mangroves. A strong correlation exists between the magnitude and depth of substrate modification and mangrove forest density, especially root and sapling density. At the third site, Anse Goeland (first planted in 2001), mangrove establishment has not been successful, many of the seedlings have died and no secondary colonisation has occurred. Sediment substrates show no deviation from background levels in terms of organic content or weight % fines content, and we find no evidence for mangrove planting influencing sediment substrates. Despite evidence for the development of a distinctive mangrove facies at Baie Diamant and Anse Pansia there is, however, no evidence as yet for a marked change in substrate geochemistry such as would be demonstrated by evidence of active bioclast dissolution – a common process in many natural (mature) mangrove substrates. We infer this to be a function of the present relative immaturity of the still developing mangrove substrates, but may also be a function of the apparent paucity of burrowing crabs which play an important role in nutrient cycling and sediment geochemistry. Thus whilst the mangroves in some of the study sites are reaching a stage where they are producing distinctive sedimentary facies, the systems appear to be in a state of progressive sedimentary and diagenetic modification as the floral and infaunal components of the mangroves continue to develop.

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