FCE LTER Journal Articles


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.


Linked to full text issue in University of Texas Repository.

This material is based upon work supported by the National Science Foundation through the Florida Coastal Everglades Long-Term Ecological Research program under Cooperative Agreements #DBI-0620409 and #DEB-9910514. Any opinions, findings, conclusions, or recommendations expressed in the material are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the views of the National Science Foundation.