An individual-based model of long-term forest growth and carbon sequestration in planted mangroves under salinity and inundation stresses

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We developed a spatially explicit individual-based model of forest development trajectories of monospecific Rhizophora mucronata plantations. The model incorporates stochastic initial seedling spacing, propagule dispersal, recruitment, and mortality. We simulated and compared the growth, development and accumulation of carbon stocks of restored mangroves between optimal and sub-optimal settings. Salinity is considered as a stressor, while flooding effects are described as an inundation stress factor. In the optimal setting, the simulated mangrove population accumulated large aboveground carbon stocks (of around 140 T/ ha) after 100 years. Under sub-optimal conditions, we observed delayed maturity by at least 10 years near the salinity threshold and the carbon stock decreased through time towards much lower values (25 T/ha). More importantly, the continuous presence of stressors may lead to forest population collapse (at 50 yrs post-planting) probably as a result of the accumulated effects of physiological stresses. Thus, restored mangrove populations that are located in highly saline and frequently inundated sites, may eventually collapse even though they may appear to be healthy in the early stages of forest development. Our results imply that current and future restoration practices should carefully consider site selection in order to ensure viable long-term forest development and to have an optimum contribution to carbon sequestration.