ENSO feedback drives variations in dieback at a marginal mangrove site

by S. M. Hickey, B. Radford, J. N. Callow, S. R. Phinn, Carlos M. Duarte, Catherine E. Lovelock
Research article Year: 2021 DOI: https://doi.org/10.1038/s41598-021-87341-5


Hickey, S. M., Radford, B., Callow, J. N., Phinn, S. R., Duarte, C. M., & Lovelock, C. E. (2021). ENSO feedback drives variations in dieback at a marginal mangrove site. Scientific reports11(1), 1-9.


Ocean–atmosphere climatic interactions, such as those resulting from El Niño Southern Oscillation (ENSO) are known to influence sea level, sea surface temperature, air temperature, and rainfall in the western Pacific region, through to the north-west Australian Ningaloo coast. Mangroves are ecologically important refuges for biodiversity and a rich store of blue carbon. Locations such as the study site (Mangrove Bay, a World Heritage Site within Ningaloo Marine Park and Cape Range National Park) are at the aridity range-limit which means trees are small in stature, forests small in area, and are potentially susceptible to climate variability such as ENSO that brings lower sea level and higher temperature. Here we explore the relationship between mangrove dieback, and canopy condition with climatic variables and the Southern Oscillation Index (SOI)—a measure of ENSO intensity, through remote sensing classification of Landsat satellite missions across a 29 year period at a north-west Australian site. We find that the SOI, and seasonal mean minimum temperature are strongly correlated to mangrove green canopy (as indicator of live canopy) area. This understanding of climate variations and mangrove temporal heterogeneity (patterns of abundance and condition) highlights the sensitivity and dynamics of this mangrove forest and recommends further research in other arid and semi-arid tropical regions at mangrove range-limits to ascertain the extent of this relationship.