Successive cambia in three dimensions: the mangrove Avicennia inside.

Elisabeth Robert, Nele Schmitz, Hans Beeckman, Nico Koedam

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingMeeting abstract (Book)


Although mangroves have been extensively studied, little is known about their functional wood anatomy so far. The aim of this study is to measure and to make an ecological interpretation of different wood characteristics (vessel density, vessel grouping and vessel diameters) of Avicennia marina (FORSSK.) VIERH. (Avicenniaceae), a species with a broad local distribution and a representative of the genus with the largest latitudinal range. Relationship between these wood characteristics, measured in 35 trees from seven different sites in Gazi Bay on the east coast of Kenya, and two environmental factors (salinity and inundation frequency) as well as different tree characteristics (Leaf Area Index, tree height and tree diameter) were investigated. A comparison with Rhizophora mucronata LAMK. (Rhizophoraceae), another mangrove species with a different ecology and habit but also growing in Gazi Bay, was made.
Results have shown different ways in which the hydraulic system of A. marina seems to be adapted to local environmental conditions. Higher vessel density and higher vessel grouping was observed with higher soil water salinity. More stressful environmental conditions were related to smaller radial vessel diameters and smaller vessel area. Mean vessel density and vessel grouping was higher in A. marina compared to R. mucronata. Furthermore A. marina had smaller vessel diameters and vessels of mainly horizontally elliptic, almost round shape.
We can conclude that the plasticity in vessel characteristics of A. marina towards environmental factors at least contributes to the capacity of A. marina to grow in sites with of diverse environmental conditions. It seems that this species is better adapted than other mangrove species to a large range of stressful environmental conditions by a safe hydraulic system (high mean vessel density, high vessel grouping and small, almost round vessels). This is a possible explanation of the ecologically broad local distribution and the wide latitudinal range of the species.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationUnknown
Publication statusPublished - 19 Mar 2009


  • mangrove trees
  • wood anatomy
  • Avicennia
  • 3D analysis


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