Environmental drivers in mangrove establishment and early development: A review

Ken W. Krauss, Catherine E. Lovelock, Karen L. McKee, Laura López-Hoffman, Sharon M.L. Ewe, Wayne P. Sousa

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

554 Scopus citations


Mangroves have a global distribution within coastal tropical and subtropical climates, and have even expanded to some temperate locales. Where they do occur, mangroves provide a plethora of goods and services, ranging from coastal protection from storms and erosion to direct income for human societies. The mangrove literature has become rather voluminous, prompting many subdisciplines within a field that earlier in the 20th century received little focus. Much of this research has become diffuse by sheer numbers, requiring detailed syntheses to make research results widely available to resource managers. In this review, we take an inclusive approach in focusing on eco-physiological and growth constraints to the establishment and early development of mangrove seedlings in the intertidal zone. This is a critical life stage for mangroves, i.e., the period between dispersal and recruitment to the sapling stage. We begin with some of the research that has set the precedent for seedling-level eco-physiological research in mangroves, and then we focus on recent advances (circa. 1995 to present) in our understanding of temperature, carbon dioxide, salinity, light, nutrient, flooding, and specific biotic influences on seedling survival and growth. As such, we take a new approach in describing seedling response to global factors (e.g., temperature) along with site-specific factors (e.g., salinity). All variables will strongly influence the future of seedling dynamics in ways perhaps not yet documented in mature forests. Furthermore, understanding how different mangrove species can respond to global factors and regional influences is useful for diagnosing observed mortality within mangrove wetlands, managed or natural. This review provides an updated eco-physiological knowledge base for future research and reforestation activity, and for understanding important links among climate change, local physico-chemical condition, and establishment and early growth of mangrove seedlings.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)105-127
Number of pages23
JournalAquatic Botany
Issue number2
StatePublished - Aug 2008


  • Biotic effect
  • CO
  • Ecophysiology
  • Flooding
  • Global climate change
  • Growth
  • Light
  • Nutrient
  • Salinity
  • Sea-level rise
  • Temperature

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Aquatic Science
  • Plant Science


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