Mangrove trees and forests have obvious similarities to their terrestrial counterparts, yet other attributes of mangroves, especially physiological and morphological specializations, make them structurally and functionally unique. These attributes include:
  • Aerial roots

  • Viviparous embryos

  • Tidal dispersal of propagules

  • Frequent absence of an understory

  • Frequent absence of annual growth rings

  • Highly efficient mechanisms for nutrient retention

  • Physiological mechanisms to tolerate salt

Because of the high irradiances and temperatures that occur in the tropics, one would expect that mangroves are C4 (CAM) plants. However, isotopic 13C signatures for a number of species show only C3 carbon fixation (Andrews and Muller 1985). Some work suggested a modified C4 pathway in Rhizophora, but all physiological studies indicate that mangroves obtain water, prevent desiccation, and closely coordinate stomatal conductance and CO2 assimilation, without use of a C4 pathway (Joshi et al. 1984; Martin and Loeschen 1993). Other C3 characteristics include a temperature-dependent CO2 compensation point of 40–90 μl −1, and a temperature optimum for photosynthesis below 35°C (see review of Clough 1992).


Fine Root Mangrove Forest Light Attenuation Mangrove Species Resorption Efficiency 
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© Springer Science + Business Media B.V. 2009

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