Diversity, Structure and Dynamics of a Mangrove Forest: a Case Study

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DOI: 10.15835/nsb.6.3.9339
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The intertidal vegetation along tropical and subtropical coast is defined as mangrove vegetation. India has a long coast line measuring 7516 km. The ecology of mangrove forest is relatively less studied. Mangrove systems are known to be one of the most productive systems in the world. The study aimed to estimate the carbon sequestration potential of a relatively protected sacred grove along the western coast of India, in Kagekanu, Kumta, Karnataka. One hectare permanent plot was established, with all woody stems > 1 cm dbh (diameter at breast height), which were marked and identified. Repeated measurements were made to register the growth and other parameters. Allometric equation was used to estimate the biomass, out of which 50% was considered as carbon content. A total of 1100 stems > 1 cm dbh, belonging to 4 species, were enumerated. There was an overall decline of 13.9% stems during the study period. Mean mortality rate was found to be 5.83 ± 1.85% and there was no recruitment. The biomass increased from 155.53 tons/ha to 164.28 tons/ha. There was a net gain of 4.38 tons. Avicinnia officinalis was found to contribute significantly to carbon sequestration.
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Hebbalalu S.S. et al./ Not Sci Biol, 2014, 6(3):300-307
Diversity, Structure and Dynamics of a Mangrove Forest:
a Case Study
, Dattatray M. BHAT
, Ravindranath H. NIJAVALLI
Sukumar RAMAN
Center for Ecological Sciences, Indian Institute of Science, Bangalore 560012, India; rsuku@ces.iisc.ernet.in (*corresponding author)
Center for Sustainable Technologies, Indian Institute of Science, Bangalore 560012, India
The intertidal vegetation along tropical and subtropical coast is defined as mangrove vegetation. India has a long coast line
measuring 7516 km. The ecology of mangrove forest is relatively less studied. Mangrove systems are known to be one of the most
productive systems in the world. The study aimed to estimate the carbon sequestration potential of a relatively protected sacred
grove along the western coast of India, in Kagekanu, Kumta, Karnataka. One hectare permanent plot was established, with all
woody stems > 1 cm dbh (diameter at breast height), which were marked and identified. Repeated measurements were made to
register the growth and other parameters. Allometric equation was used to estimate the biomass, out of which 50% was considered
as carbon content. A total of 1100 stems > 1 cm dbh, belonging to 4 species, were enumerated. There was an overall decline of
13.9% stems during the study period. Mean mortality rate was found to be 5.83 ± 1.85% and there was no recruitment. The biomass
increased from 155.53 tons/ha to 164.28 tons/ha. There was a net gain of 4.38 tons. Avicinnia officinalis was found to contribute
significantly to carbon sequestration.
Keywords: Avicinnia officinalis, biomass, carbon sequestration, growth, mortality, recruitment, Rhizophora mucronata
Available online at www.notulaebiologicae.ro
Print ISSN 2067-3205; Electronic 2067-3264
Not Sci Biol, 2014, 6(3):300-307
Mangrove forests have attracted attention of humans
historically by their special adaptation for surroundings,
their economical utilities and their ecology (Lugo and
Snedekar, 1974). The intertidal forested vegetation in
tropical estuarine zones is defined as “mangrove” (Mooney
et al., 1995; Valiela et al., 2001); they consist of salt tolerant
species with complex dynamics (Lugo and Snedekar, 1974;
Tomlinson, 1986; Duke et al. 1998) and are estimated to
cover about 240 x 103 km
area (Lugo et al., 1990; Mandal
and Naskar, 2008). Valiela et al. (2001) found that at least
35% of the mangrove habitats were lost during the last two
decades. Giri et al. (2008) opine that mangrove forests in
India and Bangladesh have remained largely unchanged
during 1975-2005, and even more, it gained a small
percentage area. Although mangrove forests cover small
geographical area, they have a unique and significant
contribution to the carbon geochemistry (Mitra et al., 2011)
and provide a wide range of ecosystem services (Badola and
Hussain, 2005; Donato et al., 2011). The floristics of
mangrove forests has been reviewed globally (Duke et al.,
1998) and at local scale, for example Sundarbans (Gopal and
Chauhan, 2006), but the studies on the patterns of diversity,
structure and dynamics of mangrove are scarce. The land
forests including tropical aseasonal (Lee et al 2002), seasonal
dry (Mc Shea et al. 2011), and temperate forests, have been
extensively studied for several ecological aspects. The large
consortium of large plots network coordinated by Center for
Tropical Forest Science (CTFS) has been monitoring
tropical forests for a long time (Condit, 1998). There are
other networks, such as “rainfor”, that monitor forests. But
with all this, there is no such organized effort to monitor
mangrove forests.
India has a long coast line of 7516 km, including island
territories. Recent estimation of mangrove forest cover is of
4639 km
, which is about 3% of the global mangrove forest
area (FSI, 2011), including in this surface also Sundarbans,
the land shared between India and Bangladesh, which is
probably the largest wet land in the world (Gopal and
Chauhan, 2006). Indian mangroves have been classified as
“tidal wetlands, woody vegetation”, under a hierarchical
system of classification that considers factors such as
location, salinity, physiognomy and duration of flooding
(Gopal and Sah, 1995). Indian mangrove vegetation has
Hebbalalu S.S. et al./ Not Sci Biol, 2014, 6(3):300-307
three distinct zones
1. East coast habitats, having a coast
line of 2700 km, facing the Bay of Bengal; 2. West coast
habitats, having a coast line of 3000 km, facing the Arabian
sea; 3. Island territories with 1816 km of coast line (Mandal
and Naskar, 2008). Mandal and Naskar (2008) also
recognized three habitat types with the Indian mangroves,
which include: a. Deltaic mangrove habitat (east coast
mangrove and gulfs of Gujarat), b. Coastal mangrove
habitat (west coast mangroves) and c. Island mangrove
habitat (Lakshadweep, Andaman and Nicobar islands).
Characteristics and status of mangroves along the Indian
coast have been reviewed by Selvam (2003). Studies in
Indian mangroves have been along the lines of documenting
biodiversity (Gopal and Chauhan, 2006), biomass (Mitra et
al., 2011), nutrient dynamics (Kumar et al., 2011) and other
conservation aspects, such as review of status (Jagtap et al.,
1993; Gopal and Chouhan, 2006). Biodiversity studies in
mangrove forests have focused on describing different
species of both true mangrove and associates of mangrove
formations in Sundarbans (Joshi and Ghose, 2003; Gopal
and Chouhan, 2006), Godavari delta (Azariah et al., 1992),
Bidarkarnika (Upadhyay and Mishra, 2008) or Andamans
(Singh et al., 1987). There are hardly any studies on the
quantitative aspects of vegetation diversity and growth rates
on mangrove species, based on repeated stem
This paper describes the diversity and structure in a one-
hectare permanent vegetation plot of a mature mangrove
sacred grove along the western coast of Karnataka. The
present study describes the dynamics of the forest, including
population changes, demographical changes based on size
class distribution, patterns of mortality, growth and carbon
sequestration over a period of three years. This is probably
the first permanent plot based systematic and an innovative
and elaborate study on the mangrove forest in India.
Study area
This study was undertaken in Uttara Kannada district
(14° 63’ N Lat and 781’ E Long) of Karnataka state,
south India. Uttara Kannda is characterized
terrain with fertile valleys. There is a considerable variation
in the altitude, ranging from sea level to as high as 1000
meters ASL. Rainfall is mainly from the southwest
monsoon, which is active from June to September. Mean
annual rainfall during 1990-2010 is 3629.6±521 mm, with
June and July being the rainiest months (Fig. 1). The
vegetation varies from tropical seasonal evergreen forests
and its variants towards the west to moist deciduous forests
on the eastern part (Pascal, 1986). Administratively, the
forests in the district are classified into the following
categories: a. Reserve forest (exclusively under state control
and highly regulated), b. Minor forests (extraction of
biomass and fuel wood is allowed to meet the demands of
people) and c. Leaf manure forests, or locally called “
Soppina betas” (forest area allotted to areca nut farmers
under certain privileges for extraction of leaf and dry wood).
Further, detailed description of the study area can be found
in Daniels (1989) and Bhat et al. (2011). In Uttara
Kannada district mangrove patches are seen in estuarine
zones of important westward flowing rivers such as Kali,
Bedthi, Aghanashini, Sharavathi and Vektapura. Mangroves
are also present along the estuaries of small creeks and
rivulets. Among these, Kali and Aghanashini estuaries
support larger isolated mangrove patches. River
Aghanashini runs in thick forests and amid cultivated lands,
mainly paddy and Areca orchards, forms two waterfalls,
covers a total distance of about 121 km before joining
Arabian sea at Tadri and Aghanashini villages. The estuary
is 13 km long and 2-6 km broad. This is the only river in
Uttara Kannada district so far not dammed and with no
major townships and industries polluting the water (Gadgil
et al. 1993). Therefore, it is supposed to be least polluted.
Before joining the sea, it forms many islands in the estuarine
zone, varying in area. These islands are locally called by
names such as Masurkurve, Gunda, Kekanakodi,
Keppekuve, Tanneerahonda, Chowlihonda. Among these,
Masurkuve is the largest, comprising about 32 ha. Though
part of the land area of the island is cultivated by the local
farmers, there is a good mangrove patch along the fringe.
This patch is conserved and protected over many years in
the name of a deity ‘Bobbrudevaru’, which is housed in a
temple in the island. On the account of this, local
community considers the patch as sacred and do not extract
from this mangrove patch for personal use. However,
collection and use of dead and fallen wood is allowed for
performing religious rituals for the deity. This particular
forest patch is called Kagekanu (14° 42’ N Lat and 74° 40’ E
Long). Majority of the islands are used for prawn culture
after the harvest of the paddy crop.
Material and Methods
We established one-hectare (100 x 100 meters)
permanent plot in the sacred groove. Caution was taken in
laying the plot to avoid edge effect. For easy enumeration we
temporarily divided this plot into smaller blocks of 20 X 20
meters, by laying ropes. Within these smaller blocks, all
woody individuals > 1.0 cm DBH (diameter at breast
height) were enumerated for species, measured for size and
marked with a unique tag number. Point of measurement
was marked with paint for successive measurements.
Multiple stems were given the same number and measured
Jan Feb Mar Ap r May Jun J ul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec
Rainfall (mm)
Mean RF
Fig. 1. Rainfall pattern in the study area (Kumta). Data from
District met office, Karwar, for the period of 1990-2010
Hebbalalu S.S. et al./ Not Sci Biol, 2014, 6(3):300-307
for size. Any deformity on the stems, such as stem breakage,
bark stripped, top broken and branches pulled, were noted.
Sizes of surviving stems were measured annually at the
same point of measurement. Dead stems were noted, and
recruitment of new stems of 1.0 cm DBH was also marked.
Sizes of the largest stems were considered for growth
analysis for individuals with multiple stems. All stems were
included in basal area estimation. Mortality rate was
estimated as the proportion of dead stems with respect to
surviving stems and expressed as percentage. Recruitment
was defined as appearance of new stems >1 cm DBH in
accordance with CTFS protocols (Condit, 1998). Growth
rate was calculated as difference in size between census
periods over time elapsed between census period.
Above ground biomass (AGB) was calculated using
allometric equation based on diameter, developed by Chave
et al. (2005) for wet mangrove forest patches:
AGB = ρ*exp (-1.349+1.980*ln(D)+0.207*(ln(D))^2-
where ρ = wood specific gravity (grams/cm
), ln =
natural logarithm and D = dbh (cm).
There are several allometric equations developed for the
estimation of AGB (Chave et al., 2005; Brown et al., 1989;
FRI, 1970). The current equation is precise and also used in
estimation of biomass by CTFS global network of
permanent forest dynamics plots (Chave et al., 2005). A
universal mean value of 0.6 was used as wood specific
gravity, as many mangrove species specific values are not
available. 50% of AGB was considered as C stocks,
according to IPCC standards.
One-hectare permanent plot at Kagekanu had 1100
individuals >1.0 cm dbh (diameter at breast height)
belonging to 4 species. Rhizophora mucronata
(Rhizophoraceae) was the dominant specie, with 368
individuals, followed by Avicinnia officnalis (Verbenaceae,
273 individuals), Sonneratia alba (Sonnaratiaceae, 233
individuals) and Kandelia kandel (Rhizophoraceae, 233
individuals). Rhizophora mucronata and Avicinnia officinalis
accounts for more than 58% of the stand composition (Tab.
1). Vegetation diversity of the plot was low. The probability
estimation of species diversity, Fisher’s alpha, was also very
low (0.52). The distribution of individuals among various
species was uniform, as shown by the high evenness index
Size class distribution of individuals followed the typical
inverted “J” shape (Fig. 2). There was a large concentration
of individuals in 5-10 cm size class. Over 62% of the
individuals were in 0-10 cm size class (Fig. 2). Among
species, Avicinnia had more or less a uniform distribution of
individuals in each size class (Fig. 3) and was significantly
Number of
368 33.45 33.45
273 24.81 58.27
Sonnaratia alba
(Sonnaratiacae) 233 21.18 79.45
Kandlia kandel
(Rhizhophoraceae) 226 20.54 100
Tab. 1. Abundances of different species in the Kagekanu permanent
vegetation plot
of picking two individuals (Simpson’s index) though was
relatively high (0.73), while the heterogeneity index
(Shannon-Weiner’s H) was low (1.36). Non-parametric
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13
Size class
bas ar ea
si ze
Fig. 2. Size class distribution of individuals and basal area in
Kagekanu permanent vegetation plot
Size class (cm)
% Indiiduals
Fig. 3. Distribution of individuals in various size classes
different from all species (KS test, p>0.05). Other species
did not show significant difference among themselves (KS
test NS). There were 339 stems (30.9%) that had multiple
stems. Population of Avicinnia officinalis had much larger
stems with mean dbh of 21.4±15 cm, followed by
Hebbalalu S.S. et al./ Not Sci Biol, 2014, 6(3):300-307
Sonnaratia alba
(10.6±4.3 cm),
Rhizophora mucronata
(7.1±4.4 cm) and Kandelia kandel (6.1±4.5 cm).
Total basal area of the one hectare plot was 24.4 m
Avicinnia officinalis accounts for 69.5% (16.9 m
) of the
total basal area, followed by Rhizophra mucronata (14.1%,
3.4 m
), Sonnaratia alba (11.5%, 2.8 m
) and Kandelia
kandel (4.7%, 1.1 m
). Basal area was more or less uniformly
distributed across size classes and did not show
concentration in higher size class as observed with several
other mature forests (Fig. 2). Total biomass of the plot was
155.53 tons. Avicinnia officinalis accounted for 77.4% of
total biomass, followed by Rhizophora mucronata (10.8%),
Sonnaratia alba (8.3%) and Kandelia kandel (4.1%).
Dynamics of the forest
Population change
There was a decline of the population from 1100
individuals in 2008 to 971 in 2011, resulting in an overall
decline of 13.9%. All species have shown decline, but
Kandelia kandel had the maximum decline of 16.5% (Tab.
2). Mean decline observed in all species was in the range of
4.27% to 5.73% (Tab. 2). There was a major decline in the
lower size classes (Tab. 3). However, there is a positive trend
in higher size classes, as a result of growth from smaller size
Mortality and recruitment
Mean mortality rate of the community was 5.83±1.85%
(range =4.27% - 7.88%, N =3). Among the different
species, Avicinnia officinalis had a mean rate of 4.95±1.62%,
Kandelia kandel had 6.79±3.06%, Rhizophora mucronata
had 5.13±2.33% and Sonnaratia alba had 7.10±2.02%
mortality rates. There was no significant difference in
mortality rates between species (t test, NS).
There was a declining trend in mortality rates with
increasing sizes (Fig. 4); however, there were elevated
mortality rates in the size classes of 20-25 cm, 35-40 cm, 50-
55 cm dbh (Fig. 4). Mean mortality rate for stems <30 cm
Tab. 2. Population changes observed in Kagekanu permanent vegetation plot
Percent change
(2008-2009) (N 2008)
Percent change
(2009-2010) (N 2009)
Percent change
(2010-2011) (N 2010)
Percent change
(2009-2011)(N 2011)
Rhizhophora mucronata
(Rhizhophoraceae) -5.70 (368) -4.32 (347) -3.01 (332) -12.5 (322)
Avicinnia officinalis
(Verbenaceae) 2.56 (273) -12.5 (280) -2.85 (245) -12.8 (238)
Sonnaratia alba
(Sonnaratiacae) -8.58 (233) -6.10 (213) -1.00 (200) -15.02 (198)
Kandlia kandel
(Rhizhophoraceae) -5.75 (226) 9.39 (213) 2.07 (193) -16.3 (189)
Total population -4.27 (1100) -7.88 (1053) -2.37 (970) -13.9 (947)
Tab. 3. Size class specific population changes in Kagekanu permanent vegetation plot
Size Pop 2008 Pop 2009 Pop 2010 Pop 2011 Change 08-09 Change 09-10 Change 10-11 Change 08-11
4.99 293 236 182 142 -19.45 -22.88 -21.97 -51.53
9.99 397 382 346 331 -3.77 -9.42 -4.33 -16.62
14.99 215 225 223 242 4.65 -0.88 8.52 12.55
19.99 43 60 69 71 39.53 15.0 2.89 65.11
24.99 29 27 32 36 -6.89 18.51 12.5 24.13
29.99 31 24 20 28 -22.58 -16.66 40.0 -9.67
34.99 32 36 32 31 12.5 -11.11 -3.12 -3.12
39.99 22 23 23 22 4.54 0.0 -4.34 0.0
44.99 12 13 15 13 8.33 15.38 -13.33 8.33
49.99 15 14 12 15 -6.66 -14.28 25.0 0.0
54.99 9 11 14 14 22.22 27.27 0 55.55
59.99 2 2 2 2 0 0 0 0
Size clas s (cm )
% Mortality
Mean mortality
Fig. 4. Size class specific mortality observed in Kagekanu
permanent plot
Hebbalalu S.S. et al./ Not Sci Biol, 2014, 6(3):300-307
dbh was 6.06±2.02% and for the stems >30 cm it was
2.05±2.06%. There was no recruitment observed during the
study period into 1 cm dbh class.
Growth and carbon sequestration
Mean growth rate in Avicinnia officinalis was found to
be 0.6±1.08 cm per annum, with maximum growth of 3.71
cm and shrinkage of 3.2 cm. It was 0. 43±0.44 cm in
Kandelia kandel, which had the maximum growth of 6.5 cm
and shrinkage of 0.9 cm. Mean growth rate in Rhizophora
mucronata was 0.49±0.76 cm, with growth as high as 9.1 cm
and shrinkage of 1.2 cm. Sonnaratia alba recorded a mean
growth of 0.45±0.62 cm, with maximum growth of 2.8 cm
and shrinkage of 3 cm. There was high variability in growth
rates among species.
There was no pattern in growth rates in each species
across different size classes (Tab. 4). However, there was
high variability in mean growth rates in each size class (Tab.
4). The mean growth rates among different species in the
size class 0-5 cm dbh were not significant (t test, p>0.05,
NS). Mean growth rate of Avicinnia officinalis with other
species in the size 5-10 cm dbh was significantly different (t
test, p<0.05) and also between Kandelia kandel and
Rhizophora mucronata (t test, p<0.05). Growth rate of
Sonnaratia alba with Kandelia kandel and Rhizophora
mucronata was not different (t test, p>0.05, NS). Among
the stems of 10 -15 cm dbh, Kandelia kandel had significant
difference with Rhizophora mucronata and Avicinnia
officinalis (t test, p<0.05), but rest of the combinations were
not significant (t test, p>0.05, NS).
There was a net gain of 1.36 m
(5.57%) of basal area
during the study period of three years. However, the gain
was not uniform. During the first year, it was 0.56 m
(2.31%), in the second year it was negligible (0.0014 m
0.005%) and in the third year there was a significant gain of
0.79 m
(3.18%) (Tab. 5). Kandelia kandel lost 12.7% basal
area during the study period, while other species gained
basal area in the range of 5-6%.
During the study period, in all censuses Avicinnia
officinalis contributed with over 75% to the AGB pool,
followed by
Rhizhophora mucronata
Sonnaratia a
(8%) and Kandelia kandel (2%). AGB changed from 155.53
tons/ha to 164.28 tons/ha, resulting in a net accumulation
of 8.76 tons. Avicinnia officinalis (8.61 tons) and Sonnaratia
alba (1.41 tons) gained biomass, while both Kandelia kandel
(1.25 tons) and Rizhophora mucronata (0.01 tons) lost
The carbon stock of the plot ranged from 77.7 to 82.1
tons of C. There was a net gain of 4.38 tons during the study
period. The mean annual increment in C stocks over three
years was 1.46±1.02 tons. However, there is a great
variability for this parameter. In the Kagekanu plot, large
amount of carbon has been locked up in Avicinnia officinalis
and accounts for more than 70% of total C stocks. Aviccinia
officinalis also contributes significantly for the sequestration
of C.
Discussion and conclusions
Mangroves are unique ecosystems of the world with
adaptations to halophytic conditions. Mangrove ecosystems
are known to provide great services to both human beings
and others organisms, including fishes and water birds (Ewel
et al., 1998; Bridgewater and Cresswell, 1999; Badola and
Hussain, 2005; Donato et al., 2011). But mangrove forests
are facing serious threat as a consequence of human activity
(Valiela et al., 2001; Upadhyay et al., 2002).
Mangrove forests across the globe consists of species
poor compared to either aseasonal rain forests or tropical
dry forests (Condit, 1998). Mangrove forest of Kagekanu is
also species poor. Pattern is similar to species richness
reported from other mangrove patches along the western
coast of India (Suresh et al., 2010). Less number of species
was observed in pure mangrove stands off the coast of
French Guiana (Fromard et al., 1998). Avicinnia officinalis
dominates the floristics of Kagekanu plot. Similar pattern of
dominance of Avicinnia sp. was also observed in Sundarbans
(Joshi and Ghose, 2003), but domination of different
species of Avicinnia was determined by salinity (Joshi and
Ghose, 2003). Dominance of Avicinnia was also seen in
pure stands of French Guiana (Fromard et al., 1998).
Tab. 4. Mean growth rates (± SD) (cm) in various size classes for different species in Kagekanu permanent vegetation plot
Size class (dbh cm) Avicinnia officinalis Kandelia kandel Rhizophora mucronata Sonnaratia alba
0-4.99 0.49±0.44 0.54±0.70 0.52±0.84 0.53±0.49
5-9.99 0.80±0.70 0.32±0.39 0.43±0.44 0.41±0.52
10-14.99 0.86±1.07 0.28±0.33 0.55±0.58 0.49±0.31
15-19.99 0.68±1.19 1.43±2.24 0.66±0.79 0.52±0.65
20-24.99 0.66±0.74 0.26±1.53 1.64±4.36 0.34±0.34
25-29.99 0.40±0.57 NA 0.04±0.03 -3.77±5.72
30-34.99 0.3±0.41 NA 0.70±0.43 1.36±1.84
35-39.99 0.52±0.58 NA 0.40±0.21 NA
40-44.99 0.86±0.95 NA NA NA
45-49.99 0.50±0.71 NA NA NA
50-54.99 0.31±0.84 NA NA NA
55-59.99 0.29±0.03 NA NA NA
Tab. 5. Basal area changes (%) in the Kagekanu permanent vegetation plot
Year Size 0-10 cm dbh Size 10-20 cm dbh Size 20-30 cm dbh Size >30 cm dbh Total
2008-2009 -4.98 19.09 -14.44 8.91 5.22
2009-2010 -9.83 4.60 4.14 -0.57 -0.08
2010-2011 -5.81 4.21 13.76 1.38 2.80
Hebbalalu S.S. et al./ Not Sci Biol, 2014, 6(3):300-307
However, Jayatissa
et al
(2002) reported 8
16 true
mangrove species from different patches at Sri Lanka. The
complexity index of Kagekanu plot (6) is considerably low
compared to mature mangrove stands of French Guiana
(18, Fromard et al., 1998), which could be attributed to the
height of the forest. Mean height of Kagekau plot was 5.58
meters, while in French Guiana it was 19.6 meters. Total
number of species recorded in Indian mangroves is 33
(Selvam, 2003). Region-wise diversity of mangrove species,
which include both true and associated species in India, is
given in Mandal and Naskar (2008). A total of 13 species
was reported from mangrove forests of Godavari region
(Azariah et al., 1992).
Azriah et al. (1992) also reported a gradient in species
diversity, with inland mangroves being highly diverse.
Relative mangrove diversity of Kagekanu region, as
estimated by Mandal and Naskar (2008), is also low
compared with other mangrove regions in India. Kagekanu
plot, being a shoreline mangrove, is having a low species
diversity, which could be attributed to high salinity.
Size class distribution of individuals followed the typical
inverted “J” shaped curve, which is seen in most tropical
(Sukumar et al., 1992) and other mangrove forest patches
(Jimenez et al., 1991; Cox and Allen, 1999; Khan et al.;
2009). A bell shaped curve is reported for Rhizophora
plantation from Kenya (Kairo et al., 2008) and for natural
Rhizophora forest of Malaysia (Eong et al., 1995). Density of
stems at Kagekanu plot was considerably low compared to
stands in Odisha (Upadyay and Mishra, 2008). Kairo et al.,
(2008) reports a density of 5132 individuals in a hectare of
12 year old Rhizophora plantation. Similarly, Engo et al.
(1991) reports a stand density of little over 4000 stems from
Malaysia. Exceptionally high density of 47000 stems over
2.5 cm dbh was recorded in mangrove stands of Puerto Rico
(Pool et al., 1977).
There is a great variation in basal area reported for
mangrove forests across tropics. Pool et al. (1977) reports an
area as high as 96.4 m
/ha to as low as 6.0 m
/ha from
Central America. Komiyama et al. (2008) reports values
ranging from 2.5 m
/ha to 43.8 m
/ha for mangrove forest
patches across globe. Basal area of Kagekanu plot is in the
range of values reported for tropical dry forest (Sukumar et
al., 1998) and is higher than the values reported from
Sundarbans (Joshi and Ghosh, 2003).
Mangrove forests are dynamic systems. The dynamism
in these forests is influenced both by extreme natural events
such as hurricane, cyclone and tsunami, as well as normal
processes including diseases and pests, resulting in natural
mortality and recruitment (Jamenez et al., 1985).
Other human mediated factors, such as erosion and
flooding, could also result in mangrove tree mortality
(Jamenez et al., 1985). Kagekanu plot is not exposed to any
of the natural extreme events. Our results indicate the
decline in total population as shown in dry forests of
Mudumalai initially (Sukumar et al., 2005). However, long-
term data is required to understand the dynamics of a forest.
Mortality rates reported in the literature (Jamenez et al.,
1985) include small seedlings. Hence, the rates observed in
Kagekanu are not comparable. There are hardly any studies
on the dynamics of mangrove forest as they are done in
either dry or moist land forests (Losos and Leigh, 2004).
Carbon sequestration potential
Mangrove forests are one of the carbon rich forests in
the tropics (Donato et al., 2011), however most carbon is
locked up in the soil. There is a great variation in AGB
across different geographical areas. AGB of mangrove forest
at a global scale varies from as low as 7.9 tons/ha to as high
as 460 tons/ha (Fromard et al., 1998; Komiyama et al.,
2008; Khan et al., 2009). One hectare of mangrove forest in
Kagekanu plot has 155.53 tons, which is in the range of
values reported for other forests, such as tropical dry forests
(Sukumar et al. unpublished results), mangrove forest
patches in Andaman islands (Mall et al., 1991), Rhizophora
plantations in Kenya (Kairo et al., 2008) and mangrove
patches in French Guiana (Fromard et al., 1998). There is
also a considerable variation in biomass storage across
species, along with total biomass. At Kagekanu plot,
Avicinnia officinalis accounts for >70% of total biomass.
Sonnaratia alba in Kagekanu plot accounts for 8% of
biomass, while Sonnaratia apetala has significant amount of
biomass in Sundarban mangroves (Mitra et al., 2011). A
detailed analysis of carbon content in different forests across
different districts in India has been carried out (Chhabra et
al., 2002). According to them, India had a total phytomass
C pool of 3874.3 TgC in 1994. According to Ravindrnath
et al. (2008) total forest carbon stocks in India was 10.01
GtC. Chhabra and Dadhwal (2004) based on growing
stock–volume approach, estimated the Indian forest
phytomass in the range of 3.8-4.3 PgC. A hectare of mature
forest such as Kagekanu is estimated to sequester 1.46 tons
of carbon per annum, which is higher than the reported
value of 0.535 tons/ha (Lal and Singh, 2000). The above
ground carbon sequestration rate is comparatively lower
than most forest types in the world; most forest are reported
to sequester carbon in the range of 1.40 to 8 tons/ha (Jina et
al. 2008). A hectare of Rhizophora plantation is estimated to
accumulate 11.0 tons (equivalent to 5.5 tC) (Kairo et al.
2008). Putz and Chan (1986) record mean increment of 6.7
tons/ha/year of biomass in mangrove forest of Malaysia.
India has 306400 hectares of mature (dense) and
moderately dense mangrove stand (FSI, 2011). Assuming
the above values, mature stands of Indian mangroves
sequester 447,344 tons of C per annum. These values are
comparatively low with other mangrove stands across the
globe. Dense mangroves form 0.44% of total forest cover.
Degraded mangroves cover an area of 157500 hectares.
Reclamation of these mangroves and development into
dense mangroves would result in additional 229,950 tons of
carbon per annum. Total carbon sequestered by above
ground mangrove vegetation would be 677,294 tons per
annum. Contribution of mangrove forests to the total
carbon pool of the country is on the lower side, as mangrove
forests cover relatively less geographical area. But we need to
have a pragmatic approach to conservation and
development of mangrove forests, as they store very high
levels of soil carbon, and also offer immense ecosystem
services. Therefore, there is an urgent need to make a proper
assessment of potential area available for the development of
mangrove vegetation through assisted propagation and
planting of mangrove species along traditional coastal
agricultural bunds, which would help in not only mitigation
of impacts of climate change, but also provide several
Hebbalalu S.S. et al./ Not Sci Biol, 2014, 6(3):300-307
ecosystem services to communities that are traditionally
dependent on mangroves.
We thank Ministry of Environment and Forests,
Government of India for funding this research. We thank
Forest department, Karnataka State for their help during
the research. We thank Sridhar Patagar, M. Govinda
Praveen Dube, Mr. Deepak Shetty, Mr. G.T. Hegde and
other for their help during the field survey. We thank the
Kagekanu temple authorities for their help and cooperation.
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