Time-lapse Electric Resistivity in a Stressed Mangrove Forest to Image the Role of the Root Zone in Porewater Salt Distribution

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Poster Session

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The movement and storage of porewater salts is poorly understood in mangrove forests with limited surface water exchange between the forest and neighboring lagoon. These mangroves are often the most stressed, and have the most unfavorable salinity balance that often transition to mortality during extreme drought. A time-lapse resistivity survey was conducted in a stressed mangrove forest over a diel period. Resistivity is sensitive to the entire soil volume, including fine roots. The objective was to image changes in porewater salinity structures around both mangrove trees, where roots can be a prolific contributor to soil volume, and a salt pan with little or no vegetation.

Throughout the diel period, salt pan conductivities remained relatively constant. The most significant temporal changes occur in the root zone around mangrove trees. Particularly interesting is a drop in resistivity (increased conductivity) at sunset when transpiration from individual trees decreases (or even ceases), potentially identifying a cumulative concentration of salts around the mangrove root zone after a full day of transpiration. The resistivity gradient decreases immediately after its peak at sunset, potentially identifying the consequences of hydraulic redistribution in diluting soils surrounding trees immediately after transpiration ceases. This is quicker than expected, and may imply a very strong and rapid eco-hydrological connection in the tree-facilitated salinity balance essential to their survival under the most salinity-stressed environments. At sunrise, resistivity increases, further suggesting dilution of salts via hydraulic redistribution of fresh water from the tree into the upper soil layers, or suggests an accumulation of salts within roots when presumably less water is moving through the trees.

Repeated electric resistivity arrays provide spatial and temporal information about these salts and contribute to an overall understanding of how stressed mangrove forests behave. The mangrove ecophysiology literature has suggested that such a balance should exist between tree water use and soil salinity concentration. Here, we document the diel pattern from the perspective of the soil for the first time, but need more surveys to develop conclusive ecosystem level impacts.

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Citation / Publisher Attribution

Presented at the AGU Fall Meeting on December 11, 2017 in New Orleans, LA