First Advisor

Elise E. Granek

Date of Publication

Spring 5-28-2015

Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Science (M.S.) in Environmental Science and Management


Environmental Science and Management




Deforestation -- Brazil, Red mangrove -- Effect of human beings on -- Belize, Erosion -- Belize, Coast changes -- Belize, Red mangrove -- Belize -- Seedlings, Forest restoration -- Belize, Forest regeneration -- Belize



Physical Description

1 online resource (vii, 59 pages)


As communities and managers become aware of the long-term impacts of mangrove loss, estimated at 1-2% per year, interest in sediment erosion and mangrove rehabilitation has increased substantially. In this thesis project I 1) examine erosion rates within coastal fringing Rhizophora mangle ecosystems following mangrove clearing and compare these rates to accretion rates in intact mangroves; and 2) investigate the abiotic factors influencing mangrove seedling survival and regeneration of naturally colonizing R. mangle, in historic mangrove habitat after anthropogenic clearing.

Differences in erosion were compared between patches of open-coast intact and anthropogenically cleared R. mangle to quantify the sediment trapping function provided by mangroves and its loss following clearing over a 24 month period. Growth rates of mangrove seedlings in intact forest were compared to seedlings in cleared areas. Seedling growth indicators were measured on 100 seedlings at five sites (50 in the intact and 50 in the cleared areas). To examine the limiting factors on seedling growth rates, nutrient addition and wave protection treatments were applied to seedlings in three disturbed areas.

Sites within intact mangroves had sediment accretion (M= +3.83 mm) while areas cleared of mangroves had sediment erosion (M= -7.30 mm). Seedling growth (height) over the 2 year study period significantly differed between intact mangrove (M = 15.6 cm) and cleared (M = 10.24 cm) areas. Seedling mortality from the cleared areas (31%) differed from the intact areas (13%). Average seedling growth (height) was: greater with both nutrient/wave (M = 18.4 cm) and nutrient (M = 17.65 cm) treatments compared to controls (M = 10.8 cm), which suggests that providing nutrients and/or wave protection result in growth outputs comparable to seedlings found in intact mangroves.

This study may prove to be useful in identifying areas that are most vulnerable to erosion following mangrove removal and ideal location of restoration following mangrove removal. Areas cleared of mangroves can lead to intensified erosion in areas where fringing reefs are not continuous. When managers are determining areas to focus resources for restoration, focusing on areas with nutrient rich habitat may result in higher survival rates and growth outputs.


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