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    Author(s): Ernesto Medina; Marta Francisco; Antonio Quilice
    Date: 2007
    Source: Springer Science+Business Media B.V.
    Publication Series: Miscellaneous Publication
    PDF: Download Publication  (352 B)


    The semi-diurnal tidal regime (2 m) in the Paria Gulf on the Atlantic coast of Venezuela, and the flat landscape of the region, allow the penetration for tens of km of marine waters into the rivers draining the northeastern coastal plain of the country. The levels of salinity, tidal flooding, and sedimentation decrease perpendicularly from the river channel toward the back swamps. The vegetation varies sequentially from fringe mangroves along the river margins, to back swamps containing forests dominated by Pterocarpus officinalis, herbaceous communities of Lagenocarpus guianensis, and palm swamps with Mauritia flexuosa, Chrysobalanus icaco, and Tabebuia spp. This environmental structure was used to test the hypotheses that: (a) mangrove distribution is strongly associated with salinity of interstitial water, and (b) they occupy areas where tidal influence and sediment dynamics determine a relatively open N cycle. Analyses of soil, water, and plants along a 1.5 km transect located near the confluence of the Guanoco and San Juan Rivers (Sucre and Monagas States, Venezuela) revealed that: (a) conductivity decreased from 11 to 0.2 mmhos cm1 from the river fringe to the internal swamp, whereas Na in the same stretch decreased from 100 to 2 mM; (b) average leaf tissue concentrations of Na, P, and N decreased significantly along the transect; (c) P. officinalis showed a large Na-exclusion capacity indicated by positive K/Na ratios from 8 to 200, and Crinum erubescens counteracted Na by accumulating K above 1,000 mmol kg1; (d) leaves varied widely in d 13C (25.5 to 32%) and d 15N (4 to 10.5%) values. Samples were aggregated according to soil carbon content corresponding to those of the mangrove forest belt (5–28 mol C kg1; 0–650 from river fringe) and those of the back swamps (40–44 mol C kg1; 700–1,500 m from river fringe). The concentrations of Na, P, and N (in mmol kg1) and d 15N values (in %) were significantly higher in the mangrove forest compared to the back swamp (Na 213 vs. 88; P 41 vs. 16; N 1,535 vs. 727; d 15N 1.5 vs. 3.7), indicating that the fringe forest was not nutrient limited. These results support the hypotheses that mangroves are restricted to the more-saline sections of the transect, and that the fringe forest has a more open N cycle, favoring 15N accumulation within the system.

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    Medina,Ernesto;Francisco,Marta;Quilice,Antonio. 2007. Isotopic signatures and nutrient relations of plants inhabiting brackish wetlands in the northeastern coastal plain of Venezuela. Springer Science+Business Media B.V.


    Coastal wetlands, Mangroves, Nutrients, Salinity, d 13C d 15N

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