Hydrodynamic Limitations to Mangrove Seedling Retention in Subtropical Estuaries


coastal sustainability; mangrove recruitment; living shoreline; restoration; hydrodynamics; bank erosion; wetlands; natural infrastructure


Mangrove forest sustainability hinges upon propagule recruitment and seedling retention. This study evaluates biophysical limitations to mangrove seedling persistence by measuring anchoring force of two mangrove species (Rhizophora mangle and Avicennia germinans). Anchoring force was measured in 362 seedlings via lateral pull-tests administered in mangrove forests of two subtropical estuaries and in laboratory-based experiments. Removal mechanism varied with seedling age: newly-established seedlings failed due to root pull-out while seedlings older than 3 months failed by root breakage. Anchoring force of R. mangle seedlings was consistently and significantly greater than A. germinans (GLM: p = 0.002), however force to remove A. germinans seedlings increased with growth at a faster rate (GLM: p < 0.001; A. germinans: 0.20-0.23 N/g biomass; R. mangle: 0.04-0.07 N/g biomass). Increasing density of surrounding vegetation had a positive effect (p = 0.04) on anchoring force of both species. Critical velocities at which seedlings become susceptible to instantaneous uprooting estimated from anchoring forces measured in the field were 1.20 m/s and 1.50 m/s, respectively, for R. mangle and A. germinans. As estimated critical velocities exceed typical flow magnitudes observed in field sites, removal of established seedlings likely occurs following erosion of sediments from the seedling base.

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Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.


College of Engineering and Computer Science

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