The Relative Role of Mangroves on Wave Erosion Mitigation and Sediment Properties

  • David Alejandro Sánchez-NúñezEmail author
  • Gladys Bernal
  • José Ernesto Mancera Pineda


Fringe mangroves face waves daily and are thought to protect against erosion in low wave energy sites and undergo erosion if exposed to high wave energy. We aimed to understand the effects of fringe mangroves on erosion and sediment dynamics and of wave exposure on seedling density at three sites of increasing wave energy. Sediment properties (mean grain size, sorting, and bulk density) were assessed within each site in unvegetated and mangrove-vegetated shores in wet and dry seasons. In addition, we estimated seasonal erosion/accretion rates for 2.4 years and seedling density in two zones from the forest edge with contrasting wave exposure. Regression analysis was carried out to explain sediment properties and erosion rate variance in response to the vegetation volume that opposes wave energy and to explain erosion rates in response to wave energy. Mangrove-vegetated shores reduced erosion rates from 3 to 15 times in the two sites with higher wave energy, while the vegetated site with the lowest wave energy experienced accretion compared to minor erosion along the unvegetated shore. Shores with greater Rhizophora mangle basal areas and vegetation volumes favored deposition of particles with low settling rates, different sediment classes, reduced erosion rates, and increased shoreline stability. Mangrove seedling density decreased between 2 and 43 times from the low wave exposure zone to the high wave exposure zone at the forest edge in studied sites. In order to increase vegetation volume, coastal adaptation based on mangroves must limit human disturbances and facilitate epiphytic relationships with oysters.


Erosion Accretion Wave energy Shoreline stabilization Rhizophora mangle Colombian Caribbean 



The research programs of Valuation and Use of Marine and Coastal Resources-VAR and Marine Environmental Quality-CAM of Marine and Coastal Research Institute “Jose Benito Vives de Andréis”-INVEMAR funded field activities during 2015. COLCIENCIAS (code 110171451047) funded this study from 2016 to 2019. The research was performed in the facilities of CECIMAR and is part of the doctoral thesis of the first author. We thank Dr. Ken Krauss, Dr. Rodolfo Silva Casarín, and Dra. Maria Luisa Martínez and two anonymous reviewers for their critical reading of this manuscript; and Keila Guillén, Domingo Rodríguez, Remberto de la Rosa, Kevin de la Rosa, Selene Rojas, and Lucia Licero for their valuable help during field expeditions. First author was funded by the COLCIENCIAS grant no. 617-2013 and by the Corporation Center of Excellence in Marine Sciences-CEMarin (Call # 12-2018). This is the contribution CTRB-1232 of INVEMAR and 489 of CECIMAR programa de Posgrado en Biología–línea Biología Marina.

Supplementary material

12237_2019_628_Fig10_ESM.png (9 kb)
Fig. S1

Seedling density and mean wave energy conditions present at two zones from the mangrove edge. Different letters indicate statistically significant differences at p < 0.05 between seedling densities according to the Mann-Whitney U test. (PNG 8 kb)

12237_2019_628_MOESM1_ESM.tiff (220 kb)
High resolution image (TIFF 220 kb)


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© Coastal and Estuarine Research Federation 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Instituto de Estudios en Ciencias del Mar –CECIMARUniversidad Nacional de Colombia, Sede CaribeSanta MartaColombia
  2. 2.Intituto de Investigaciones Marinas y Costeras “José Benito Vives de Andreis”- INVEMARSanta MartaColombia
  3. 3.CEMarin - Corporation Center of Excellence in Marine SciencesBogotáColombia
  4. 4.Facultad de Minas, Departamento de Geociencias y Medio AmbienteUniversidad Nacional de Colombia, Sede MedellínMedellínColombia
  5. 5.Universidad Nacional de Colombia, Sede BogotáBogotáColombia

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