Mangrove Overview

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Mangrove forests are a group of plants that grow along the tropical to the sub-tropical coastline which has special function in an environment containing salt and landforms such as beaches with anaerobic soil reaction. Briefly mangrove forests can be defined as a forest type that grows in tidal areas (especially in a sheltered beach, lagoons, and river estuaries) that flooded by high tide and free from immersion at low tide where the its plant community are tolerant to salt. Mangrove plants survive high amounts of salinity either by excreting salt through their leaves, or simply by safely keeping it within their tissues. Their root systems are shallow and partly exposed to the air, which allows them to breathe in an environment that’s frequently flooded and low in oxygen. Mangrove swamps are unique ecological communities that link freshwater and oceanic ecosystems and host a rich diversity of animal species. Mangrove plants are not a single genetic entity because the plant types represented in the tidal zone are not all closely related. So, while they sometimes look the same, and have similar function, this tells us more about the environment they live in, rather than their family relationships. The plants growing in the tidal zone also require serious adaptations for their continued survival in this habitat. However, this does not preclude other plants from occasionally being found within the tidal zone. Some are grouped as ‘associates’ where they only occasionally occur in intertidal sediments and most of the time they are found elsewhere. Mangrove forests are rich in biodiversity providing a habitat for wide varieties of animal and plant species. Mangrove forest provide foods for many types of animals such as plankton, mollusks, crustaceans, insects, amphibians, reptiles and fish. Many of the fish caught commercially in tropical regions reproduce and spend time in the mangroves as juveniles or adults. Mangroves are also home to many birds and mammals.

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