What are mangroves - tree & ecosystem

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Mangroves are the purest survivors. They occur mainly in warm areas of the earth and have been around for millions of years. South America and the Caribbean, for example, are a typical distribution area of ​​mangroves.
Although mangroves have incredible growth, they have high demands on their habitat. The plant inhabits coastal regions where strong tides prevail. Her story of success is closely related to her character. The mangrove tree is extremely salt tolerant. Some species even have leaves with salt glands.
In addition, it dominates the mangrove excellent to root firmly in soft soil. Even low-oxygen soils are no problem for them. However, this supposed coping with rather adverse conditions for plants leads to the fact that the mangroves can really settle only in such places where exactly these living conditions prevail.
An essential factor for the existence of the mangroves is the temperature of the water. In the winter months, it should not fall below 20 degrees Celsius. If this is the case, the plants are either inhibited in growth and form so-called dwarf forms or they do not even settle.
The distribution of mangrove occurs in most species by floating seedlings. The fruits of the mangrove tree develop on the mother plant so far that they get across the water, explicitly through the tides, to other places. Within a short time they are rooted there and lay the foundation for a new population.
The importance of mangroves in the ecosystem
The mangroves are their own ecosystem. There are approximately 15 million hectares of mangrove forests around the world. The mangrove forests are formed by trees and shrubs that share the same characteristics. There are various plants that can be found in the mangrove forests. They all store salt in their cells. This happens during the flood, when the trees stand in the water right up to the point of their crowns. If ebb and ebb and due to the tropical temperatures, the evaporation of water begins, the salt comes out of the leaves again.
The productivity of this ecosystem is immense. A similar can be found only in coral reefs and tropical rainforests. The mangrove forests provide a habitat for many animals and plants. Reptiles and mammals populate the crowns of the trees. In these very many birds nest. They use the rich food supply to rear their offspring.
In the roots, small organisms find an ideal habitat. One encounters fish, crabs and clams as well as a large number of larvae and juveniles of various animals. They are optimally protected by the dense root system. Not only in the roots on them are the living conditions for plants and animals perfect. Here you can see snails, barnacles, algae and sponges. Fish and gun crabs in turn prefer the deeper waters of the mangrove forests.
What benefit does man derive from mangroves?
Man is a part of nature. That's why he can also benefit from the mangrove forest ecosystem. He directly benefits from the large population of different animals. To catch mussels and crabs, humans go to the mangrove forests, among other places.
What is a major problem on coasts in many places is of no importance for mangrove-populated coastal regions: erosion. Mangrove forests continue to provide natural protection against tidal waves.
Dangers to the ecosystem mangrove forest
Unfortunately, the pollution does not stop at the mangrove forests. The shrimp farming in the mangroves, which is used in many places, is a heavy burden on the ecosystem. The chemicals used contaminate the so-called shrimp pond after only a few years.
After that, the breeding is abandoned and the reforesting with mangroves is impossible. For the expansion of their habitat, people are cutting off the mangrove forests or laying them dry. In addition, for example, oil is extracted in Panama and the Persian Gulf, which seriously endangers the mangrove forests.

Video Board: Into the Mangrove Forest | UnderH2O | PBS Digital Studios.

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