Mangrove forests or just mangroves as commonly called are a kind of ecosystem of intertidal wetlands . The word mangrove is derived from the Portuguese word “mangue” which means ” tree” and the English word “grove” is used to refer to trees and shrubs located in shallow , sandy or muddy areas .
What are mangroves?
Mangroves are habitats with swampy characteristics between the terrestrial and aquatic environments that are located at the mouth of water courses, on the flat and muddy ground and that are also full of woody trees called mangroves .
- Mangrove characteristics
- Mangrove types
- What are they for
- Mangroves in the world
Mangroves are intertidal plant formations that form on protected tropical and subtropical coasts . They have been described in various ways and given different definitions as ” coastal forests “ , ” mangales “ , ” tidal forests “ or ” mangrove forests “ . Where conditions are optimal, mangroves have the ability to form extensive and productive forests. However, when conditions are not optimal, they can appear scattered and do not become “forests”.
Among the main characteristics of mangroves we mention the following:
- The mangrove ecosystem has a fairly rich biodiversity and is the habitat of species that are at risk and provides important environmental services.
- They are remarkably tough .
- They have a filtration system that keeps the salt away and a complex root system that keeps the mangrove upright .
- Most are found in muddy soils , although some can also grow on sand, peat, and coral rock .
- They live in water up to 100 times saltier than most other plants can tolerate.
- It provides an immense amount of creature diversity with some unique species that inhabit mangrove forests.
- They are also called salty forests and coastal wetlands .
- They are vital to the ecosystems that inhabit them.
- They help prevent coastal erosion .
The types of mangroves that we can find are the following:
- Riparian mangroves : located along the riverbed, they are influenced by the tide and by salty water . They can exceed 30 meters in height thanks to the large amount of nutrients they have. They are the least affected by marine pollutants , they are susceptible to excessive sedimentation and erosion affects them.
- Edge mangroves: form in reef bays or lagoons . They receive less amount of nutrients and their trees do not exceed 20 meters in height and are a source of export of organic materials. It is more exposed to pollutants from the sea.
- Bar mangroves: they are most common in the Pacific and are protected by a sand bar . They are well developed forests and their sea front is occupied by red mangroves .
- Basin or basin mangrove : it is more commonly found in depressions where there is exchange of masses and organic material . They do not have a large amount of organic matter and act as a closed ecosystem.
- Islet mangroves: they are exposed to the action of the tides and develop in isolated muddy beaches . The trees do not exceed 10 meters .
- Dwarf mangroves : developed on sand , stone or coral rock in regions where the temperature is extremely low and where there are high concentrations of salt . The trees do not exceed 4 meters in height and receive little amount of nutrients .
What are they for
Mangroves, in addition to being a source of production and defense , can serve as a form of refuge or a nursery area for a large number of different species and provide valuable resources to society. Wood can be obtained from its mangrove trees , which is very resistant to the attack of insects and is used in construction , the lands of the mangroves can also be converted into pastures for the use of livestock , the firewood is widely used in the home just like coalthat you get from your trees. It also serves to cover the roofs of the houses with the leaves of its trees and they are used for tourism , since in many of them hotels, ports and marinas have been built .
Depending on the different survival conditions that occur in the muddy environments of the mangroves, there are three different plant species called mangroves that are classified as:
- White mangrove (Laguncularia racemosa)
- Red mangrove (Rhizophora mangle)
- Black mangrove ( Avicena schaueriana)
The type of fauna found in mangroves is made up of different species of crustaceans , fish , mollusks , and many species of mammals , birds , reptiles and amphibians can also be found . Some examples of the fauna that we find in the mangroves are: crab, oyster, shrimp, cobra, crocodile, lizard, turtle, otter, marmoset, sea lion, mussel, earthworm, heron, vulture, seagull, hawk.
We can find mangroves generally throughout the tropical area , in sheltered coastal regions and where the river constantly deposits clay and silt . Mangroves can also be found in some parts of places like Singapore , in America of the North and the South , in Africa , Asia and Oceania . The most representative mangroves in the world are located in China , Colombia and the Gulf of Guinea .
The climate that we can find in the mangroves is a type of tropical climate .
The temperatures found in mangroves are very similar to those found in tropical and subtropical humid forests , although they tend to drop due to the oceanic climate , which is around 20 ° C.
Probably the most striking part that mangroves have is found in their roots since many of them have root systems that are exposed to the atmosphere for most of the day forming aerial roots . Some of them are quite colorful and you will find various types of trees that remain green , as well as a wide variety of animals .
Mangroves in the world
- Mexico : its formation is woody , dense , arboreal that measures between 1 and 30 meters in height and is composed of a great variety of mangroves with few herbaceous species. Its mangroves are perennial , full-edged and the main ones are Rhizophora mangle, Laguncularia racemosa, Avicennia germinans and Conocarpus erectus
- Colombia: in this country they are dedicated to the conservation and protection of mangroves despite being abundant. They are low forests that do not exceed 15 meters in height. They are occupying important areas on the Pacific and Atlantic littoral and the eastern and western mangroves are in the place .
- Panama: the country is characterized by its diverse coasts where mangroves predominate, which are fundamental for the importance they bring to the balance and quality of life of its inhabitants as they indirectly collaborate in the economic growth of the country. They constitute 5.6% of the country’s forest cover and are concentrated on the Pacific coast .
- Ecuador : they are essential for the survival of the communities and they are unique in the world. A large number of birds , reptiles , mammals and crustaceans inhabit them, and their flora is very wide. Some specimens can measure up to 50 meters in height.
Many countries where mangroves develop have struggled through legal instruments to be able to regulate the availability of water and to make good use of the different marine and coastal ecosystems . The creation of environmental awareness by visitors and communities is perhaps the best measure to be able to conserve mangroves
Mangroves are very important environments for us because they protect the coast against natural disasters such as tsunamis. They also provide a haven for many animals such as the monitor lizard, pelicans, mud jumper, etc. They can also help prevent erosion as their roots help stabilize the shoreline, protecting it. The mangroves are also responsible for the fact that fishing can occur since many of the fish must live in estuaries for a long part of their life, since these waters are very rich in nutrients .
From them you can obtain various types of crabs , shrimp , crabs and prawns that are consumed and marketed, as well as mollusks such as oysters, snails and clams. They help maintain biological diversity , are a habitat for terrestrial fauna in saline wetlands and have great ecological value . They are also a source of medicinal resources , scientific research , and identity and culture .