Marine Biology

, Volume 155, Issue 3, pp 263–271 | Cite as

Adaptations to barnacle fouling in the mangroves Kandelia obovata and Aegiceras corniculatum

  • S. W. Li
  • Benny K. K. ChanEmail author
Original Paper


Mangrove trees planted for restoration or rehabilitation often fail to show satisfactory survivals. Although it is generally assumed that barnacle fouling is a factor in mangrove mortality, the sub-lethal response of mangroves to this fouling is not known. In the present study, we compare the leaf morphology (stomata density, leaf thickness, percentage thickness of palisade layer and number of hypodermal layers), lenticel density and the plant fitness (number of flowers or droppers per tree) between mangroves fouled by the acorn barnacle Fistulobalanus albicostatus (the fouled group, number of barnacles ~ 120 individuals per tree) and non-fouled mangroves (the control group). We observed 55 Kandelia obovata from three locations, two in Hong Kong (n = 35, fouled 25 and control 10) and one location in Taiwan (n = 20, fouled 10 and control 10). Aegiceras corniculatum (n = 45) was observed from two sites in Hong Kong, one on the east coast (n = 20, 10/10) and one on the west coast (n = 25, 10/15). In seedlings (K. obovatan = 10, 5/5), fouling density did not affect leaf morphology. In mature trees, however, leaves from fouled trees had significantly higher density of stomata and stem lenticel, a lower percentage thickness of leaf palisade layer and more layers of lower hypodermis in the leaves, probably for compensating the impeded gaseous exchange functions of the lenticels. The number of droppers and flowers on fouled mangroves was significantly lower. It is possible that after compensating for respiratory stress, the plant had less energy available for reproduction. Although there was no obvious barnacle-induced mortality in this study, barnacles appear to be related to a reduction in plant fitness. This may induce sufficient stress that over time fouled mangroves cannot sustain viable populations.


Leaf Thickness Mangrove Tree Palisade Layer Atmospheric Carbon Dioxide Concentration Stomata Density 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.



The authors would like to thank Dr. Gray A. Williams (The University of Hong Kong) for his support in the research, Dr. Jane Lewis for her comments on the early version of the manuscript and Dr. Gordon Maxwell (The Open University of Hong Kong) for the support with experiments and field work. The authors are also indebted to Dr. C.-Y. Chiu (Academia Sinica, Taiwan) for his comments on the manuscript and suggestions for useful references. A part of this study was funded by a National Science Grant (NSC) in Taiwan to B.K.K. Chan (NSC 96-2621-B-001-007-MY3) and by University of Hong Kong studentship to S. W. Li. The authors would like to thank Prof. Nora Tam (City University of Hong Kong) for her encouragement in the research. We would like to acknowledge the three anonymous reviewers, for their constructive comments to improve the final version of the manuscript.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 2008

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.The Swire Institute of Marine Science, Division of Ecology & Biodiversity, School of Biological ScienceThe University of Hong KongPokfulam RoadHong Kong
  2. 2.Biodiversity Research Center, Academia SinicaTaipeiTaiwan

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