Mangrove forests with higher species diversity store more carbon, according to new research published in the British Ecological Society journal Functional Ecology.

Researchers studying mangrove forests in Hainan Island, China, have found that species diversity in mangrove forests increases both biomass production (the amount of organic matter) and soil carbon storage. The findings highlight the importance of biodiversity conservation in mangrove forests as a natural solution to mitigate climate change.

Biodiversity or biological diversity is a term that describes the diversity of living organisms on Earth and the degree to which life has changed. Biodiversity includes microorganisms, plants, animals, and ecosystems such as coral reefs, forests, deserts, etc. Biodiversity is everything from towering trees to tiny unicellular algae that cannot be seen without a microscope.

In the process, scientists discovered that the eastern side of the island has the highest biodiversity of mangrove forests. At the same time, in such forests, the highest rate of carbon accumulation is on average 537 tons of carbon per hectare (Mg / ha-1, Mg per ha-1). At the same time, the average value in Hainan Island is 328 Mg / ha-1, and worldwide for mangrove forests – 386 Mg/ha-1.

This is the first work based on intensive field research to test the positive effects of biodiversity on mangrove biomass and carbon storage.

Mangroves are found in tropical regions and are one of the most carbon-rich ecosystems on the planet. There are over 70 different species around the world, 27 of which are found in 26 areas of China studied by researchers.

The researchers also found that areas with high soil nitrogen and annual rainfall have higher mangrove biomass and carbon storage potential.

The results of the study show that the greater the potential of mangrove forests, the greater their biodiversity. In addition to being better at storing carbon, the forests themselves are more resilient to external changes. Thus, the conservation of the biodiversity of mangrove forests is critical to ensure their ability to mitigate the effects of climate change.