Leaf morphological plasticity in three dominant tree species in the Sundarbans mangrove forest of Bangladesh in different salinity zones

Author:- Abdus Subhan Mollick, Rabeya Sultana, M. Salim Azad & M. Nabiul Islam Khan
Category:- Journal; Year:- 2021
Discipline:- Forestry & Wood Technology Discipline
School:- Life Science School


Mangrove tree species show plasticity in their leaf morphological traits in different salinity zones. However, leaf morphological plasticity and its causes in different salinity zones are incompletely understood. To understand the mechanism of plasticity, this study investigated the responses of three dominant tree species Sundri (Heritiera fomes), Gewa (Excoecaria agallocha) and Goran (Ceriops decandra) of the Sundarbans to the salinity gradients. A total of 17 leaf parameters were measured and quantified. All collected data were analyzed using univariate and multivariate statistical tools to investigate leaf morphological plasticity. A wide range of phenotypic plasticity was observed in all leaf parameters studied among the salinity zones of the Sundarbans. One-way ANOVA and Tukey’s posthoc test revealed significant differences (P < 0.05) in all leaf parameters among the salinity zones and confirming that there was a high degree of phenotypic plasticity among the salinity zones of the Sundarbans. Petiole length (PL), leaf area (LA) and leaf length/petiole length (LL/PL) showed high level of plasticity among the salinity zones of the Sundarbans for each species of Sundri, Gewa and Goran. Plasticity index (PI) was developed in this study for each species studied. High level of phenotypic plasticity in these leaf traits reflects fitness of these species to different saline environments. Our results provide clear evidence that all the leaf parameters measured for three tree species viz., Sundri, Gewa and Goran effectively utilizes a plastic strategy in different salinity zones in the Sundarbans. Morphological trait plasticity could serve as powerful biological indicators to predict the shift of leaf morphology in upcoming environmental change events like sea level rise and reduction of fresh water flow from upstream.

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