Paleoecology of mangroves along the Sibun River, Belize

TitlePaleoecology of mangroves along the Sibun River, Belize
Publication TypeJournal Article
Year of Publication2011
AuthorsMonacci, NM, Meier-Grünhagen, U, Finney, BP, Behling, H, Wooller, MJ
JournalQuaternary Research

This study examines a sediment core (SR-63) from a mangrove ecosystem along the Sibun River in Belize, which is subject to both changes in sea-level and in the characteristics of the river's drainage basin. Radiocarbon dates from the core show a decreased sedimentation rate from ~ 6 ka to 1 cal ka BP and a marked change in lithology from primarily mangrove peat to fluvial-derived material at ~ 2.5 cal ka BP. Changes in the sedimentation rates observed in mangrove ecosystems offshore have previously been attributed to changes in relative sea-level and the rate of sea-level rise. Pollen analyses show a decreased abundance of Rhizophora (red mangrove) pollen and an increased abundance of Avicennia (black mangrove) pollen and non-mangrove pollen coeval with the decreased sedimentation rates. Elemental ratios ([N:C]a) and stable isotope analyses (δ15N and δ13C) show that changes in the composition of the organic material are also coeval with the change in lithology. The decrease in sedimentation rate at the site of core SR-63 and at offshore sites supports the idea that regional changes in hydrology occurred during the Holocene in Belize, influencing both mainland and offshore mangrove ecosystems.