Springer Nature is making SARS-CoV-2 and COVID-19 research free. View research | View latest news | Sign up for updates

Soil-plant interactions in a neotropical mangrove forest: iron, phosphorus and sulfur dynamics

  • 692 Accesses

  • 103 Citations


We examined soil porewater concentrations of sulfate, alkalinity, phosphorus, nitrogen, and dissolved organic carbon and solid phase concentrations of pyrite in relation to mangrove species distributions along a 3.1-km-long transect that traversed a 47.1-km2 mangrove forest in the Dominican Republic. Iron, phosphorus, and sulfur dynamics are closely coupled to the activity of sulfate-reducing bacteria, the primary decomposers in anoxic soils of mangrove ecosystems. Patterns in the chemistry data suggested that sulfate reduction rates and storage of reduced sulfur were greater in the inland basin forest dominated by Laguncularia racemosa than the Rhizophora mangle dominated forest of the lower tidal region. The distribution of Laguncularia was significantly correlated with concentrations of total phosphorus (r= 0.99) and dissolved organic carbon (r= 0.86), alkalinity (r= 0.60), and the extent of sulfate depletion (r= 0.77) in the soil porewater and soil pyrite concentrations (r= 0.72) across the tidal gradient. Leaf tissue chemistry of Laguncularia was characterized by lower C:N and C:P ratios that could fuel the higher rates of decomposition in the Laguncularia-dominated forest. We suggest that a plant-soil-microbial feedback contributes to the spatial patterning of vegetation and soil variables across the intertidal zone of many mangrove forest communities.

This is a preview of subscription content, log in to check access.

Author information

Additional information

Received: 28 May 1997 / Accepted: 23 January 1998

Rights and permissions

Reprints and Permissions

About this article

Cite this article

Sherman, R., Fahey, T. & Howarth, R. Soil-plant interactions in a neotropical mangrove forest: iron, phosphorus and sulfur dynamics. Oecologia 115, 553–563 (1998). https://doi.org/10.1007/s004420050553

Download citation

  • Key words Mangrove species zonation
  • Sulfate reduction
  • Pyrite formation
  • Phosphorus
  • Decomposition