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Mangrove soils represent a large sink for otherwise rapidly recycled carbon (C). However, widespread deforestation threatens the preservation of this important C stock. It is therefore imperative that global patterns in mangrove soil C stocks and their susceptibility to remineralization are understood. Here, we present patterns in mangrove soil C stocks across hemispheres, latitudes, countries and mangrove community compositions, and estimate potential annual CO2 emissions for countries where mangroves occur. Global potential CO2 emissions from soils as a result of mangrove loss were estimated to be 7.0 Tg CO2e yr−1. Countries with the highest potential CO2 emissions from soils are Indonesia (3,410 Gg CO2e yr−1) and Malaysia (1,288 Gg CO2e yr−1). The patterns described serve as a baseline by which countries can assess their mangrove soil C stocks and potential emissions from mangrove deforestation.

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Change history

  • 27 November 2017

    In the version of this Article originally published, the potential carbon loss from soils as a result of mangrove deforestation was incorrectly given as '2.0–75 Tg C yr−1; this should have read '2–8 Tg C yr−1;'. The corresponding emissions were incorrectly given as '~7.3–275 Tg of CO2e'; this should have read '~7–29 Tg of CO2e'. The corresponding percentage equivalent of these emissions compared with those from global terrestrial deforestation was incorrectly given as '0.2–6%'; this should have read '0.6–2.4%'. These errors have now been corrected in all versions of the Article.


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Support was provided by the CSIRO Coastal Carbon Biogeochemistry Cluster. We also acknowledge the support of The Oceans Institute of the University of Western Australia, the Global Change Institute of The University of Queensland, and the Australian Research Council (Awards DE130101084, DE170101524, LP160100242, LE140100083 and DP150103286) and King Abdullah University of Science and Technology (KAUST) through the baseline fund to C.M.D. We would like to thank P. Terletzky-Gese for assistance with GIS.

Author information


  1. Department of Watershed Sciences and Ecology Center, Utah State University, Logan, Utah 84322-5210, USA

    • Trisha B. Atwood
    •  & Catherine E. Lovelock
  2. Global Change Institute, University of Queensland, St Lucia, Queensland 4067, Australia

    • Trisha B. Atwood
  3. Australian Rivers Institute—Coast and Estuaries, School of Environment, Griffith University, Gold Coast, Queensland 4222, Australia

    • Rod M. Connolly
  4. Biology Department, University of Dammam (UOD), Dammam 31441-1982, Saudi Arabia

    • Hanan Almahasheer
  5. Deakin University, School of Life and Environmental Sciences, Center for Integrative Ecology, Burwood, Victoria 3125, Australia

    • Paul E. Carnell
    • , Carolyn J. Ewers Lewis
    •  & Peter I. Macreadie
  6. King Abdullah University of Science and Technology (KAUST), Red Sea Research Center (RSRC), Thuwal 23955-6900, Saudi Arabia

    • Carlos M. Duarte
  7. AZTI—Marine Research, Herrera Kaia, Portualdea z/g-20110 Pasaia (Gipuzkoa), Spain

    • Xabier Irigoien
  8. Ikerbasque, Basque Foundation for Science, 48013 Bilbao, Spain

    • Xabier Irigoien
  9. Department of Environmental Sciences, Macquarie University, Sydney, New South Wales 2109, Australia

    • Jeffrey J. Kelleway
  10. School of Science & Centre for Marine Ecosystems Research, Edith Cowan University, Joondalup Drive, Joondalup, Western Australia 6027, Australia

    • Paul S. Lavery
    •  & Oscar Serrano
  11. Centre d’Estudis Avançats de Blanes—CSIC, 17300 Blanes, Spain

    • Paul S. Lavery
  12. UWA Oceans Institute, University of Western Australia, Crawley, Western Australia 6009, Australia

    • Oscar Serrano
  13. National Marine Science Centre, School of Environment, Science and Engineering, Southern Cross University, Coffs Harbour, New South Wales 2450, Australia

    • Christian J. Sanders
    •  & Isaac Santos
  14. CSIRO Oceans and Atmosphere, Ecosciences Precinct, Dutton Park, Queensland 4102, Australia

    • Andrew D. L. Steven
  15. School of Biological Sciences, University of Queensland, St Lucia, Queensland 4072, Australia

    • Catherine E. Lovelock


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T.B.A., R.M.C., and C.E.L. designed the study. T.B.A., C.E.L., H.A., P.E.C., C.M.D., C.J.E.L., X.I., J.J.K., P.S.L., P.I.M., O.S., C.J.S., I.S. and A.D.L.S. contributed data. T.B.A. analysed the data and drafted the first version of the manuscript. All authors contributed to the writing and editing of the manuscript.

Competing interests

The authors declare no competing financial interests.

Corresponding author

Correspondence to Trisha B. Atwood.

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