Mangrove diversity enhances plant biomass production and carbon storage in Hainan island, China

Jiankun Bai, Yuchen Meng, Ruikun Gou, Jiacheng Lyu, Zheng Dai, Xiaoping Diao, Hongsheng Zhang, Yiqi Luo, Xiaoshan Zhu, Guanghui Lin

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

47 Scopus citations


Mangrove forests, one of the highest carbon density ecosystems, are very different from other forests as they occupy saline and tidal habitats. Although previous studies in forests, shrublands and grasslands have shown a positive effect of biodiversity on plant biomass and carbon storage, it remains unclear whether this relation to biodiversity also exists in mangrove forests. Here, we evaluate the possible effects of mangrove species diversity, structural characteristics and environmental factors on mangrove biomass production and carbon storage, using survey data from 234 field plots of 30 transects in the mangrove forests along the coastlines of Hainan Island, China, during 2017 and 2018. We found that mangrove species diversity had a positive effect, not only on mangrove biomass production but also on soil carbon storage. This positive effect was more strongly evident in the forest communities than in either the shrub communities or forest-shrub mixed communities, with the forest type having the biggest mangrove biodiversity and carbon storage. Besides, the diversity effect was affected by structural characteristics, namely, mangrove biomass increased exponentially with tree stem diameter and decreased with tree density. Furthermore, we observed a resource-dependent mediation of the mangrove ecosystem when linking diversity to biomass. The areas with high soil Nitrogen content and Mean annual precipitation (MAP) showed higher mangrove biomass and carbon storage. This suggests that the spatial pattern of mangrove carbon storage and diversity was driven by both climate factors (MAP) and soil fertility (soil N). To our knowledge, this is the first study based on an intensive field survey that has verified the positive effect of biodiversity on mangrove biomass and carbon storage. Our findings suggest that mangrove forests with greater diversity also have higher carbon storage capacities and conservation potential. Thus, biodiversity conservation is crucial for mangroves to mitigate the greenhouse effect. Our findings strengthen the understanding of the diversity effects on mangrove ecosystem services and have important implications for mangrove restoration and conservation. A free Plain Language Summary can be found within the Supporting Information of this article.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)774-786
Number of pages13
JournalFunctional Ecology
Issue number3
StatePublished - Mar 2021


  • Hainan Island
  • biodiversity
  • biomass
  • carbon storage
  • environmental factor
  • mangrove forest
  • restoration
  • structural factor

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics


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