location and quantity of water are essential to
primary production. Epiphytes attached to the roots
can add significantly to this production. Estuarine
mangrove systems are second only to the tropics in
primaryproductivity. Estimates of 8.8 dry
tons/hectare/year of organic material have been
recorded. Factors affecting productivity are
species composition, age, competition, substrate,
wave action, bird activity, hurricanes,
methods that produce estimates of primary
productivity are biomass, gas exchange, litter
compares above and below ground biomass estimates
in a Puerto Rican and a South Florida red mangrove
forest. It seems that if all root material is taken
into account, below ground biomass may exceed above
ground estimates. However, all biomass estimates
are probably highly variable from forest to forest.
Another method of estimating production is net
amount of carbon. In general, Red mangroves have
the greatest net production, Blacks intermediate,
and Whites the lowest figures of net primary
mangroves intercept 95% of the available light at
13 feet (4 m) below top of the canopy. Therefore,
it is not suprising that 90% of the leaf biomass
exists in this upper portion of the canopy.
Possible explanations are shading and environmental
stress (salt, anaerobic conditions, etc). Litter
fall of Florida mangrove forests estimates range
from 2-3 dry g/m2/day in well developed stands.
Leaves fall all year with a minor peak in early
summers. Additionally, sporadic litter fall exists
animals graze directly on mangroves. The
(Littorina angulifera) and the
(Melampus coffeus) are known to eat Black mangrove
propagules. Primary consumers are the decomposers.
Bacteria and protozoans colonize plant
and begin breaking
chemically into organic compounds, minerals, CO2,
and nitrogenous wastes. Amphipods
and other small grazers speed up the process by
reducing the litter mechanically to detritus. This
increase in surface area aids microbial
colonization which speeds up decomposition. Due to
the increased activitiy of shredding organisms
(crabs, amphipods, etc.), decomposition of Red
mangrove leaves is faster in marine waters than
freshwater or dry conditions. Faster decomposition
is also apparent with an increase in tidal
enriched nutritionally by its microbial population
is utilized as a food source by a variety of
organisms. The role of mangrove detritus and its
importance to nearby reef systems is problematic.
Surface waters associated with mangrove habitats
are often characterized by a wide range of salinity
(0-->40ppt), low macronutrient concentrations
(especially Phosphorus), a relative low dissolved
02 concentration, frequently increased color and
turbidity.These conditions are most pronounced in
the Everglades with decreased pronounced effects in
is a hypothesis that mangroves may pulse the
detritus food webs in nearby coastal waters.
However, there is not enough data to prove this
theory. Due to an increased epibiontic population
there is a tendency for mangrove ecosystems to act
as consumers of 02 and a sink for nutrients such as
nitrogen and phosphorus.
biomass is not totally reduced through
decomposition. Litter that persists in absence of
physical forces flushing the habitat may form peat.
Red mangrove root material produces the most easily
recognized peat reaching depths of several meters.
The acidic nature of peat is capable of dissolving
limestone underneath. Acidity is due to the release
of organic acids during anaerobic decomposition.
Reduced sulfur compounds are oxidized when drained
and dried in the sun. These conditions are
responsible for the characteristic smell of
exists a classic mangrove
with red mangroves dominating from their maximum
depth of water for growing 1.5 feet (.4 m) into the
intertidal zone. Black mangroves take over the
intertidal zone and predominate area covered by
high tides. White mangroves appear in this area,
but predominate along with Buttonwoods above the
high tide line. However, there is much variation of
this model from forest to forest. Recent general
conclusions suggest that all species can grow
together on a new site.