Marine and Freshwater Research Marine and Freshwater Research Society
Advances in the aquatic sciences

Effect of geomorphological setting and rainfall on nutrient exchange in mangroves during tidal inundation

María Fernanda Adame A D , Bernardino Virdis C and Catherine E. Lovelock A B

A Centre for Marine Studies, The University of Queensland, St Lucia, Qld 4072, Australia.

B School of Biological Science, The University of Queensland, St Lucia, Qld 4072, Australia.

C Advanced Water Management Centre, The University of Queensland, St Lucia, Qld 4072, Australia.

D Corresponding author. Email:

Marine and Freshwater Research 61(10) 1197-1206
Submitted: 20 January 2010  Accepted: 19 May 2010   Published: 14 October 2010


One of the key ecosystem services provided by mangroves is their role in mediating nutrient exchange, thereby protecting coastal ecosystems from negative impacts of nutrient enrichment. In this study, we tested whether geomorphological setting and level of rainfall affect the intensity and direction of nutrient exchange. Our hypotheses were that tidal mangroves retain more nutrients than riverine mangroves and that nutrient retention is stronger during periods of high rainfall. Concentrations of soluble reactive phosphorus (SRP), nitrogen oxides (NOx-N) and ammonium (NH4+) were measured from water entering and leaving the mangroves during tidal cycles. Our results show that nutrient concentrations were higher in the flood tide compared with the ebb tide by up to 28% for NOx-N, 51% for SRP and 83% for NH4+, suggesting retention by the mangroves. Geomorphological setting determined nutrient exchange to some extent, with some riverine sites receiving more nutrients than tidal sites and thus, being more important in nutrient retention. Rainfall was important in determining nutrient exchange as it enhanced SRP and NH4+ retention. These results show that mangroves can improve water quality of creeks and rivers, and underscore the need for conservation of mangroves over a range of geomorphological settings.

Additional keywords: Australia, coastal wetlands, drought, nitrogen, phosphorus, riverine mangroves, south-east Queensland, tidal mangroves.


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