Leaf Stable Isotope and Nutrient Status of Temperate Mangroves As Ecological Indicators to Assess Anthropogenic Activity and Recovery From Eutrophication

Gritcan, I
Duxbury, M
Leuzinger, S
Alfaro, AC
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Journal Article
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Frontiers Research Foundation

We measured nitrogen stable isotope values (δ15N), and total phosphorus (%P) and total nitrogen (%N) contents in leaves of the temperate mangrove (Avicennia marina sp. australasica) from three coastal ecosystems exposed to various levels of human impact (Manukau, high; Mangawhai, low; and Waitemata, intermediate) in northern New Zealand. We measured δ15N values around 10‰ in environments where the major terrestrial water inputs are sewage. The highest average total nitrogen contents and δ15N values were found in the Auckland city region (Manukau Harbour) at 2.2%N and 9.9‰, respectively. The lowest values were found in Mangawhai Harbour, situated about 80 km north of Auckland city, at 2.0%N and 5.2‰, respectively. In the Waitemata Harbour, also located in Auckland city but with less exposure to human derived sewage inputs, both parameters were intermediate, at 2.1%N and 6.4‰. Total phosphorus contents did not vary significantly. Additionally, analysis of historical mangrove leaf herbarium samples obtained from the Auckland War Memorial Museum indicated that a reduction in both leaf total nitrogen and δ15N content has occurred over the past 100 years in Auckland’s harbors. Collectively, these results suggest that anthropogenically derived nitrogen has had a significant impact on mangrove nutrient status in Auckland harbors over the last 100 years. The observed decrease in nitrogenous nutrients probably occurred due to sewage system improvements. We suggest that mangrove plant physiological response to nutrient excess could be used as an indicator of long-term eutrophication trends. Monitoring leaf nutrient status in mangroves can be used to assess environmental stress (sewage, eutrophication) on coastal ecosystems heavily impacted by human activities. Moreover, nitrogen and phosphorus leaf contents can be used to assess levels of available nutrients in the surrounding environments.

Environmental assessment , Herbarium isotope samples , Leaf nitrogen content , Leaf phosphorus content , Marine pollution , Nitrogen stable isotope ratio
Frontiers in Plant Science. 7:1922. doi: 10.3389/fpls.2016.01922
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© 2016 Gritcan, Duxbury, Leuzinger and Alfaro. This is an open-access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License (CC BY). The use, distribution or reproduction in other forums is permitted, provided the original author(s) or licensor are credited and that the original publication in this journal is cited, in accordance with accepted academic practice. No use, distribution or reproduction is permitted which does not comply with these terms.