The novel mangrove environment and composition of the Amazon Delta



Bernardino AF, Mazzuco ACA, Souza FM, Santos TMT, Sanders CJ, Massone CG, Costa RF, Silva AEB, Ferreira TO, Nóbrega GN, Silva TSF & Kauffman JB (2022) The novel mangrove environment and composition of the Amazon Delta. Current Biology, 32 (16), pp. 3636-3640.e2.

Both freshwater floodplain (várzeas and igapós) forests and brackish-saline mangroves are abundant and well-described ecosystems in Brazil.1 However, an interesting and unique wetland forest exists in the Amazon Delta where extensive mangroves occur in essentially freshwater tidal environments. Unlike the floodplain forests found upriver, the hydrology of these ecosystems is driven largely by large macro-tides of 4–8 m coupled with the significant freshwater discharge from the Amazon River. We explored these mangroves on the Amazon Delta (00°52ʹ N to 01°41ʹ N) and found surface water salinity to be consistently <5; soil pore water salinity in these mangrove forests ranged from 0 nearest the Amazon mouth to only 5–11 at the coastal margins to the north (01°41ʹ N, 49°55′ W). We also recorded a unique mix of mangrove-obligate (Avicennia sp., Rhizophora mangle) and facultative-wetland species (Mauritia flexuosa, Pterocarpus sp.) dominating these forests. This unique mix of plant species and soil porewater chemistry exists even along the coastal strands and active coastlines of the Atlantic Ocean. Part of these unique mangroves have escaped current global satellite mapping efforts, and we estimate that they may add over 180 km2 (20% increase in mangrove area) within the Amazon Delta. Despite having a unique structure and function, these freshwater-brackish ecosystems likely provide similar ecosystem services to most mangroves worldwide, such as sequestering large quantities of organic carbon, protection of shoreline ecosystems from erosion, and habitats to many terrestrial and aquatic species (monkeys, birds, crabs, and fish).

Amazon Delta; mangroves; wetlands; blue carbon; marine ecology; oceanography

Current Biology: Volume 32, Issue 16

FundersNational Geographic Society
Publication date22/08/2022
Publication date online20/07/2022
Date accepted by journal22/06/2022
PublisherElsevier BV

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Dr Thiago Silva
Dr Thiago Silva

Senior Lecturer, Biological and Environmental Sciences