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Publication Date




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e4806 (1-23)


Mangroves are one of the most carbon-dense forests on the Earth and have been highlighted as key ecosystems for climate change mitigation and adaptation. Hundreds of studies have investigated how mangroves fix, transform, store, and export carbon. Here, we review and synthesize the previously known and emerging carbon pathways in mangroves, including gains (woody biomass accumulation, deadwood accumulation, soil carbon sequestration, root and litterfall production), transformations (food web transfer through herbivory, decomposition), and losses (respiration as CO2 and CH4, litterfall export, particulate and dissolved carbon export). We then review the technologies available to measure carbon fluxes in mangroves, their potential, and their limitations. We also synthesize and compare mangrove net ecosystem productivity (NEP) with terrestrial forests. Finally, we update global estimates of carbon fluxes with the most current values of fluxes and global mangrove area. We found that the contributions of recently investigated fluxes, such as soil respiration as CH4, are minor (<1 Tg C year-1), while the contributions of deadwood accumulation, herbivory, and lateral export are significant (>35 Tg C year-1). Dissolved inorganic carbon exports are an order of magnitude higher than the other processes investigated and were highly variable, highlighting the need for further studies. Gross primary productivity (GPP) and ecosystem respiration (ER) per area of mangroves were within the same order of magnitude as terrestrial forests. However, ER/GPP was lower in mangroves, explaining their higher carbon sequestration. We estimate the global mean mangrove NEP of 109.1 Tg C year-1 (7.4 Mg C ha-1 year-1) or through a budget balance, accounting for lateral losses, a global mean of 66.6 Tg C year-1 (4.5 Mg C ha-1 year-1). Overall, mangroves are highly productive, and despite losses due to respiration and tidal exchange, they are significant carbon sinks.


© 2024 The Authors.

This is an open access article under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International (CC BY 4.0) License, which permits use, distribution and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.

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Article states: No data were collected for this study.

Original Publication Citation

Adame, M. F., Cormier, N., Taillardat, P., Iram, N., Rovai, A., Sloey, T. M., Yando, E. S., Blanco-Libreros, J. F., Arnaud, M., Jennerjahn, T., Lovelock, C. E., Friess, D., Reithmaier, G. M. S., Buelow, C. A., Muhammad-Nor, S. M., Twilley, R. R., & Ribeiro, R. A. (2024). Deconstructing the mangrove carbon cycle: Gains, transformation, and losses. Ecosphere, 15(3), 1-23, Article e4806.


0000-0003-2780-1687 (Sloey), 0000-0002-8786-6178 (Yando)