Aim: Tropical cyclones are large-scale disturbances that can shape the structure and dynamics of mangrove forests. Although tropical cyclone activity overlaps extensively with the latitudinal distribution of mangrove forests, the relationships between cyclone intensity and frequency and mangrove forest canopy damage and recovery are not understood at the global scale. Using remote sensing data, we examined how mangrove forest structure, climate and cyclone characteristics influence canopy cover loss and recovery dynamics. Location: Global tropics. Time period: 2000–2020. Major taxa studied: Mangrove trees. Methods: Using two satellite-derived vegetation indices (the enhanced vegetation index and the normalized difference infrared index) from 86 cyclones affecting 56 mangrove sites across the globe, we quantified mangrove canopy loss in relationship to cyclones. Using linear regression and variance decomposition, we identified and ranked significant predictors of cyclone-induced canopy loss and recovery. Results: Three-quarters of the studied cyclone disturbances resulted in canopy damage. Stands exposed to high wind speeds and those close to the cyclone paths were more severely damaged, whereas lower damage magnitudes were found in sites with greater past cyclone frequency. Canopy damage was greater in tall mangrove stands but decreased with higher aboveground biomass. The distance from the cyclone path and maximum wind speed were the most important factors, representing > 50% of the explained variation in cyclone damage. There was considerable variation in canopy damage among cyclones, but rates of recovery were similar across all mangrove sites, with the main predictor of recovery time being the degree of canopy loss. Main conclusions: Our results suggest that the resistance of mangrove canopy cover to cyclone disturbance is variably tuned to the cyclone regime and vegetation characteristics, but resilience is inherent to the magnitude of canopy damage because the rate of forest canopy recovery appears to be consistent globally.
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