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Data from: Warming accelerates mangrove expansion and surface elevation gain in a subtropical wetland

Citation

Coldren, Glenn A.; Langley, J. Adam; Feller, Ilka Candy; Chapman, Samantha K. (2019), Data from: Warming accelerates mangrove expansion and surface elevation gain in a subtropical wetland, Dryad, Dataset, https://doi.org/10.5061/dryad.7b150n7

Abstract

Climatic warming can change how coastal wetland plants grow, thus altering their capacity to build land and keep pace with rising seas. As freeze events decline with climate change, mangroves expand their range to higher latitudes and displace salt marsh vegetation. Warmer air temperatures will likely alter above‐ and below‐ground plant dynamics as this dramatic coastal wetland biome shift proceeds, which in turn may result in changes in ecosystem function such as sediment building. We used a large scale in situ warming experiment in a subtropical wetland to increase both marsh and mangrove ecosystem air temperatures. We assessed how 2 years of continuous warming influenced above‐ and below‐ground plant growth and surface elevation relative to sea level. We found that chronic warming doubled plant height and accelerated the expansion of mangrove into salt marsh vegetation, as indicated by a sixfold greater increase in mangrove cover in warmed plots compared to ambient temperature plots and a corresponding loss in salt marsh cover. Surface elevation gain, a measure of soil‐building capacity, increased due to warming over a 2‐year period and these changes in surface elevation were driven by increased mangrove root production in warmed plots. Synthesis. Our findings suggest that, in some coastal wetlands, warming can facilitate plant community changes from marsh to mangrove, with corresponding increases in growth that help coastal wetlands to keep pace with sea‐level rise.

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