Variation in hydraulic conductivity of mangroves: influence of species, salinity, and nitrogen and phosphorus availability


  • Edited by V. Hurry



We investigated how species identity and variation in salinity and nutrient availability influence the hydraulic conductivity of mangroves. Using a fertilization study of two species in Florida, we found that stem hydraulic conductivity expressed on a leaf area basis (Kleaf) was significantly different among species of differing salinity tolerance, but was not significantly altered by enrichment with limiting nutrients. Reviewing data from two additional sites (Panamá and Belize), we found an overall pattern of declining leaf-specific hydraulic conductivity (Kleaf) with increasing salinity. Over three sites, a general pattern emerges, indicating that native stem hydraulic conductivity (Kh) and Kleaf are less sensitive to nitrogen (N) fertilization when N limits growth, but more sensitive to phosphorus (P) fertilization when P limits growth. Processes leading to growth enhancement with N fertilization are probably associated with changes in allocation to leaf area and photosynthetic processes, whereas water uptake and transport processes could be more limiting when P limits growth. These findings suggest that whereas salinity and species identity place broad bounds on hydraulic conductivity, the effects of nutrient availability modulate hydraulic conductivity and growth in complex ways.