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Mud bank colonization by opportunistic mangroves: A case study from French Guiana using lidar data

Abstract : Mud bank colonization by mangroves on the Amazon-influenced coast of French Guiana was studied using light detection and ranging (lidar) data which provide unique information on canopy geometry an sub-canopy topography. The role of topography was assessed through analysis of vegetation characteristics derived from these data. Measurements and analyses of mangrove expansion rates over space and time led to the identification of two distinct colonization processes. The first involves regular step-by-step mangrove expansion to the northwest of the experimental site. The second is qualified as ‘opportunistic’ since it involves a clear relationship between specific ecological characteristics of pioneer Avicennia and mud cracks affecting the mud bank surface and for which probabilities of occurrence were computed from terrain elevations. It is argued from an original analysis of the latter relationship that mud cracks cannot be solely viewed as water stress features that reflect desiccation potentially harmful to plant growth. Indeed, our results tend to demonstrate that they significantly enhance the propensity for mangroves to anchor and take root, thus leading to the colonization of tens of hectares in a few days. The limits and potential of lidar data are discussed with reference to the study of muddy coasts. Finally, the findings of the study are reconsidered within the context of a better understanding of both topography and vegetation characteristics on mangrove-fringed muddy coasts.
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Christophe Proisy, Nicolas Gratiot, E. J. Anthony, Antoine Gardel, François Fromard, et al.. Mud bank colonization by opportunistic mangroves: A case study from French Guiana using lidar data. Continental Shelf Research, Elsevier, 2009, 29 (3), pp.632-641. ⟨10.1016/j.csr.2008.09.017⟩. ⟨halsde-00374860⟩

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