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Diagnostics About the State of Mangroves in Venezuela: Case Studies from the National Park Morrocoy and Wildlife Refuge Cuare

  • Maria Beatriz Barreto
Part of the Tasks for Vegetation Sciences book series (TAVS, volume 43)

The mangroves of the Caribbean coast of Venezuela, characterized by semiarid and subhumid dry climates have been affected by human activities which in the last 35 years have increased alarmingly. The Wildlife Refuge of Cuare and the National Park of Morrocoy, located on the central-western coast of the country are among the most important marine coastal sectors because of their tourist attractions. The decline of mangroves in these areas, from 1951 to 1998 has been documented through photogrammetric analysis. The vegetation attributes were measured in Caño Pancho (Wildlife Refuge of Cuare) on 44 50 m2 plots established along a 180 m transect, perpendicular to the shoreline, running inshore from a fringe dominated by Rhizophora mangle, through a R. mangle–Avicennia germinans belt (transition zone) into an A. germinans zone, between the 1996 and 2000 sampling times. The density and basal area of dead stems increased markedly in the transition zone, and in the A. germinans forest zone all individuals had died. The interstitial salinity measured along a transect at the site of Caño Pancho throughout 1991–1993 and 2000–2005, increased significantly (73 to 88 ppth) in the A. germinans zones, correlated with massive mortality of trees. The conditions of substrate high salinity preceding the period 1991–1993 intensified the negative effect of the severe droughts accompanying the ENSO events. The massive mortality of mangroves appears to be associated with intense ENSO events during 1997–1998 and the extended ENSO event of 1990–1994. Mangrove mortality has been related to progressive increase of salinity due to changes of hydrological and sedimentary patterns, probably caused by human activities, as well as the frequency of droughts linked to ENSO events. Both, the high salinity and the drought magnified the problem and acts synergistically. The restoration and management of these areas should involve both, the consideration of climate variability as well as ongoing human activities.

Keywords

Avicennia germinans Rhizophora mangle climate variability ENSO El Niño interstitial salinity mangrove mortality in Morrocoy and Cuare spatial temporal substrate changes tropical forest vegetation attributes Venezuela 

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Copyright information

© Springer Science + Business Media B.V 2008

Authors and Affiliations

  • Maria Beatriz Barreto
    • 1
  1. 1.Instituto Zoologia TropicalUniversidad Central de VenezuelaVenezuela

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