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Salinity constrains size inequality and allometry in two contrasting mangrove habitats in the Gulf of Mexico

  • Rodrigo Méndez-Alonzo (a1), Humberto Hernández-Trejo (a2) and Jorge López-Portillo (a3)


The competition for resources increases size inequality in trees, particularly under low abiotic stress. Because mangrove communities are subject to site-specific salinity (and therefore abiotic stress) gradients, these habitats should differ in height–diameter allometry and size inequality. The size inequality (by the Gini Coefficient, G) and maximum potential height (Hmax from a height–diameter asymptotic model) were determined within the mangrove forest of a coastal lagoon in Veracruz, Mexico in 20 0.25-ha plots, 10 in interdistributary basins (IBs, lower salinity) having Avicennia germinans, Laguncularia racemosa and Rhizophora mangle and 10 in mudflats (MFs, higher salinity) dominated by A. germinans. Size inequality was significantly higher in IBs (G = 0.59 ± 0.02 vs. 0.39 ± 0.03). Due to their significant intercorrelation G, total basal area and density were synthesized in one PCA axis accounting for 67% of total variance and inversely correlated with salinity (R = −0.65, P = 0.003). The height–diameter scaling model reached a stable asymptote (Hmax range: 16–21 m; coefficient of variation CV: 7.7) in IBs, suggesting that trees can still increase their diameter after achieving maximum height. In MFs, no stable asymptote was reached (Hmax range: 11–26 m; CV: 32.5), suggesting a lower growth rate of diameter in the MF trees when compared with IB trees.


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