Graduation Year


Document Type




Degree Granting Department

Biology (Integrative Biology)

Major Professor

Peter Stiling


Climate Change, Eutrophication, Herbivores, Nutrient Enrichment, Plant Growth Responses


Coastal communities will be most affected by global climate change and are important to study to understand current and future ecological processes. The current model for global climate change predicts a change in rainfall, which will alter the salinity of coastal systems. Given the presence of eutrophication in many coastal waters, it is important to understand the effects that this increase in nutrients, coupled with changes in salinity, will have on these communities. This study was conducted to understand the effect of salinity increase on the growth and herbivory of the black mangrove, Avicennia germinans, in the presence of increased nutrients. Explicitly, the effects of changing salinity (high, medium, and low) were coupled with fertilizer additions of nitrogen, phosphorus, both, or no fertilizer. Nutrient enrichment differentially affected the growth and herbivory of the plants between salinity zones. The medium salinity zone consistently produced the greatest increases in growth and herbivory. Added nutrients did not have an effect on growth in the low salinity zone. However, added nitrogen increased some growth variables in the medium salinity zone and added phosphorus increased some growth variables in the high salinity zone. Phosphorus also increased herbivory. The results point to diverse processes acting along the salinity gradient. There appears to be differential N- and P-limitation along the gradient. Additionally, the growth differences indicate abiotic and biotic limitations across the salinity gradient, with debilitating salinity acting in the high salinity zone and competition acting in the low salinity zone.

Included in

Biology Commons