Biomass, litterfall and decomposition rates for the fringed Rhizophora mangle forest lining the Bon Accord Lagoon, Tobago
The mangrove forest that fringes the Bon Accord Lagoon measures 0.8 km2 and is dominated by red mangrove (Rhizophora mangle). This forest forms the landward boundary of the Buccoo Reef Marine Park in Southwest Tobago, and is part of a mangrove-seagrass-coral reef continuum. Biomass and productivity, as indicated by litterfall rates, were measured in seven 0.01 ha monospecific plots from February 1998 to February 1999, and decomposition rates were determined. Red mangrove above-ground biomass ranged between 2.0 and 25.9 kg (dry wt.) m-2. Mean biomass was 14.1±8.1 kg (dry wt.) m-2 yielding a standing crop of 11 318±6 488 t. Litterfall rate varied spatially and seasonally. It peaked from May to August (4.2-4.3 g dry wt. m-2 d-1) and was lowest from October to December (2.3-2.8 g dry wt. m-2 d-1). Mean annual litterfall rate was 3.4±0.9 g dry wt. m-2 d-1. Leaf degradation rates ranged from 0.3% loss d-1 in the upper intertidal zone to 1% loss d-1 at a lower intertidal site flooded by sewage effluent. Mean degradation rate was 0.4±1% loss d-1. The swamp produces 2.8 t dry wt. of litterfall and 12 kg dry wt. of decomposed leaf material daily. Biomass and litterfall rates in Bon Accord Lagoon were compared to five similar sites that also participate in the Caribbean Coastal Marine Productivity Programme (CARICOMP). The Bon Accord Lagoon mangrove swamp is a highly productive fringed-forest that contributes to the overall productivity of the mangrove-seagrass-reef complex.
Keywords: Rhizophora mangle, biomass, litterfall rates, CARICOMP, Bon Accord Lagoon