Table of Contents
ISRN Ecology
Volume 2012, Article ID 958709, 14 pages
Review Article

Ecosystem-Wide Impacts of Deforestation in Mangroves: The Urabá Gulf (Colombian Caribbean) Case Study

1Instituto de Biología, Universidad de Antioquia, Medellín, Colombia
2Departamento de Ciencias Forestales, Universidad Nacional de Colombia, Medellín, Colombia

Received 30 March 2012; Accepted 10 May 2012

Academic Editors: A. Pusceddu, S. Sabater, M. van Noordwijk, and G. Zotz

Copyright © 2012 J. F. Blanco et al. This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.


Mangroves are ecologically important and extensive in the Neotropics, but they are visibly threatened by selective logging and conversion to pastures in the Southern Caribbean. The objective of this paper was to summarize the impacts of both threats on forest structure, species composition, aboveground biomass and carbon reservoir, species introgressions, and benthic fauna populations by collating past and current data and by using an interdisciplinary approach in the Urabá Gulf (Colombia) as a case study. Mangroves in the Eastern Coast have been decimated and have produced unskewed tree-diameter (DBH) distributions due to the overexploitation of Rhizophora mangle for poles (DBH range: 7–17 cm) and of Avicennia germinans for planks and pilings (DBH > 4 0  cm). Selective logging increased the importance value of the light-tolerant white mangrove Laguncularia racemosa, also increasing biomass and carbon storage in this species, thus offsetting reductions in other species. Introgressions (cryptic ecological degradation) by L. racemosa and Acrostichum aureum (mangrove fern) and low densities of otherwise dominant detritivore snails (Neritina virginea) were observed in periurban basin mangroves. Finally, basin mangroves were more threatened than fringing mangroves due to their proximity to expanding pastures, villages, and a coastal city.