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PLOS ONE  2014 

Changes in Carbon Pool and Stand Structure of a Native Subtropical Mangrove Forest after Inter-Planting with Exotic Species Sonneratia apetala

DOI: 10.1371/journal.pone.0091238

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Abstract:

In this study, we compared stand structure, biomass and soil carbon pools, and litterfall production between a mixed mangrove forest consisting of Aegiceras corniculatum inter-planted with the exotic Sonneratia apetala and a native monospecific forest dominated by A. corniculatum in the intertidal area of Zhanjiang, Guangdong Province, southeast China. The goal of this study was to test the hypothesis that inter-planting fast growing exotic mangrove S. apetala into subtropical native mangrove forests will significantly increase C sequestration. Although the tree heights and basal diameters of S. apetala were significantly higher than those of A. corniculatum, the density of the 12-year-old S. apetala trees in the mixed forest was much smaller than that of A. corniculatum in the monospecific forest. In contrast to several previous studies on S. apetala forests planted directly on mangrove-free mudflats, the mixed mangrove forest showed no significant difference in either standing biomass or soil carbon pools from the native monospecific mangrove forest (p = 0.294 and 0.073, respectively) twelve years after inter-planting with S. apetala. Moreover, carbon cycling was likely speeded up after inter-planting S. apetala due to higher litterfall input and lower C/N ratio. Thus, inter-planting fast-growing S. apetala into native mangrove forest is not an effective way to increase carbon sequestration in this subtropical mangrove forest. Given that exotic plant species may exert negative impact on native mangrove species and related epifauna, this fast-growing mangrove species is not suitable for mangrove plantation projects aiming mainly at enhancing carbon sequestration.

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