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Impact of typhoon disturbance on the diversity of key ecosystem engineers in a monoculture mangrove forest plantation, Can Gio Biosphere Reserve, Vietnam.

Diele, Karen; Tran Ngoc, D M; Geist, S J; Meyer, F; Pham, Q H; Saint-Paul, Ulrich; Triet, Tran; Berger, Uta


D M Tran Ngoc

S J Geist

F Meyer

Q H Pham

Ulrich Saint-Paul

Tran Triet

Uta Berger


Mangrove crabs as key ecosystem engineers may play an important role in the recovery process of storm-damaged forests. Yet, their response to storm disturbance is largely unknown. Here we compare the ground-dwelling brachyuran crab community of intact mangrove stands with that of typhoon gaps having experienced 100% tree mortality. Field work was conducted in two adjacent areas in Can Gio Biosphere Reserve, southern Vietnam. In each area, an 18–20 yr old monoculture Rhizophora apiculata stand served as control and was compared with typhoon gaps where downed stems had been removed or left on-site. The gaps were 14 and 20 months old when studied in the dry and rainy season 2008, respectively. Time-based sampling of ground-dwelling crabs with hand or shovel was conducted by 4 persons inside 100 m2 plots for 30 min (7 replicate plots per area, treatment and month). Abiotic (sediment pH, salinity, temperature, grain size, water content, carbon and nitrogen content), and biotic measures (e.g. canopy coverage, woody debris, number of trees, leaf litter) were also taken. Despite complete canopy loss, total crab abundance has not changed significantly (in contrast to biomass) and all 12 species found in the forest were also found in the gaps, demonstrating their robustness. Another 9 gap-exclusive species were recorded and average species number and Shannon diversity were thus higher in the gaps. Perisesarma eumolpe was the most abundant species, both in the forest and in the gaps, and a shift from sesarmids (typical forest species) to ocypodids (generally more prominent in open areas) has not occurred. The persistence of litter-feeding sesarmid crabs prior to the re-establishment of a mangrove canopy is likely to depend on the availability of woody debris on the ground of the gaps, fuelling a mangrove detritus based food web, rather than one based on microphytobenthos and deposit-feeding ocypodids. The presence of burrowing crabs in the gaps suggests that important ecosystem engineering activities are still performed. However, bioturbation may be reduced as crab biomass and body size were smaller in the gaps. Follow-up assessments and field experiments are needed to understand the crabs' role in processing the woody debris, their long-term community dynamics and possible feed-backs between species shifts and gap regeneration.


Diele, K., Tran Ngoc, D. M., Geist, S. J., Meyer, F., Pham, Q. H., Saint-Paul, U., …Berger, U. (2013). Impact of typhoon disturbance on the diversity of key ecosystem engineers in a monoculture mangrove forest plantation, Can Gio Biosphere Reserve, Vietnam. Global and Planetary Change, 110(B), 236-248.

Journal Article Type Article
Acceptance Date Sep 5, 2012
Online Publication Date Sep 12, 2012
Publication Date 2013-11
Deposit Date Nov 25, 2013
Publicly Available Date Nov 25, 2013
Journal Global and Planetary Change
Print ISSN 0921-8181
Electronic ISSN 1872-6364
Publisher Elsevier
Peer Reviewed Peer Reviewed
Volume 110
Issue B
Pages 236-248
Keywords crabs; benthos; community; diversity; tropical storm; climate change; Perisesarma; hurricane;
Public URL
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