Carbon (d13c) and Nitrogen (d15n) Isotopic Discrimination in Mangroves in Florida Coastal Everglades as a Function of Environmental Stress
Isotope signatures of mangrove leaves can vary depending on discrimination associated with plant response to environmental stressors defined by gradients of resources (such as water and nutrient limitation) and regulators (such as salinity and sulfide toxicity). We tested the variability of mangrove isotopic signatures (d13C and d15N) across a stress gradient in south Florida, using green leaves from four mangrove species collected at six sites. Mangroves across the landscape studied are stressed by resource and regulator gradients represented by limited phosphorus concentrations combined with high sulfide concentrations, respectively. Foliar d13C ratios exhibited a range from 24.6 to –32.7‰, and multiple regression analysis showed that 46% of the variability in mangrove d13C composition could be explained by the differences in dissolved inorganic nitrogen, soluble reactive phosphorus, and sulfide porewater concentrations. 15N discrimination in mangrove species ranged from –0.1 to 7.7‰, and porewater N, salinity, and leaf N:Pa ratios accounted for 41% of this variability in mangrove leaves. The increase in soil P availability reduced 15N discrimination due to higher N demand. Scrub mangroves (<1.5 m tall) are more water-use efficient, as indicated by higher d13C; and have greater nutrient use efficiency ratios of P than do tall mangroves (5 to 10 m tall) existing in sites with greater soil P concentrations. The high variability of mangrove d13C and d15N across these resource and regulator gradients could be a confounding factor obscuring the linkages between mangrove wetlands and estuarine food webs. These results support the hypothesis that landscape factors may control mangrove structure and function, so that nutrient biogeochemistry and mangrove-based food webs in adjacent estuaries should account for watershed-specific organic inputs.
Mancera-Pineda, J.E., R.R. Twilley, V.H. Rivera-Monroy. 2009. Carbon (d13c) and Nitrogen (d15n) Isotopic Discrimination in Mangroves in Florida Coastal Everglades as a Function of Environmental Stress. Contributions in Marine Science 38: 109-129.