Global mangrove root production, its controls and roles in the blue carbon budget of mangroves

Marie Arnaud*, Stefan Krause, Richard J. Norby, Thuong Huyen Dang, Nezha Acil, Nicholas Kettridge, Vincent Gauci, Sami Ullah

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

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Mangroves are among the most carbon-dense ecosystems worldwide. Most of the carbon in mangroves is found belowground, and root production might be an important control of carbon accumulation, but has been rarely quantified and understood at the global scale. Here, we determined the global mangrove root production rate and its controls using a systematic review and a recently formalised, spatially explicit mangrove typology framework based on geomorphological settings. We found that global mangrove root production averaged ~770 ± 202 g of dry biomass m-2 year-1 globally, which is much higher than previously reported and close to the root production of the most productive tropical forests. Geomorphological settings exerted marked control over root production together with air temperature and precipitation (r2 ≈ 30%, p < .001). Our review shows that individual global changes (e.g. warming, eutrophication, drought) have antagonist effects on root production, but they have rarely been studied in combination. Based on this newly established root production rate, root-derived carbon might account for most of the total carbon buried in mangroves, and 19 Tg C lost in mangroves each year (e.g. as CO2). Inclusion of root production measurements in understudied geomorphological settings (i.e. deltas), regions (Indonesia, South America and Africa) and soil depth (>40 cm), as well as the creation of a mangrove root trait database will push forward our understanding of the global mangrove carbon cycle for now and the future. Overall, this review presents a comprehensive analysis of root production in mangroves, and highlights the central role of root production in the global mangrove carbon budget.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)3256-3270
Number of pages15
JournalGlobal Change Biology
Issue number12
Early online date30 Mar 2023
Publication statusPublished - Jun 2023

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
Miss Chantal Jackson in the School of Geography, Earth and Environmental Sciences, University of Birmingham made Figures 1 and 2 under the guidance of MA. This research was financially supported by a prime fund of the Institute of Global Innovation‐Water Theme of the University of Birmingham.

Publisher Copyright:
© 2023 The Authors. Global Change Biology published by John Wiley & Sons Ltd.


  • belowground
  • belowground dynamics
  • belowground production
  • blue carbon
  • climate change
  • coastal wetlands
  • mangroves
  • root production

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Global and Planetary Change
  • Environmental Chemistry
  • Ecology
  • General Environmental Science


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