One of my interests is Mangrove Ecology. Much of the information here is from some of my University essay preparations and notes. Below are links to text so you can go straight to the bit you are interested in.
What are mangrove forests?
Mangroves are tropical trees found in coastal and riverine intertidal habitats. The term 'mangal' refers to the community of plants in which mangroves occur, also called a Mangrove Forest. Mangroves are usually present on muddy shores and estuarine shores, but can also be found on sand, peat and coral. The complex and dense root system encourages sedimentation and development of a mud substrate, so the mangroves can spread and expand their range. The mangal community is important , complex and generally limited to the subtropics/tropics.
Although generally found in saline water habitats, many are not obligate halophytes. Some species can be found further inland (e.g. Avicennia marina in Australia), others such as Sonneratia are found above high tide level. in temperate and cold temperate regions, mangals are generally replaced by salt marshes, though the 2 communities can co-exist in some areas such as the Arabian Gulf.Productivity
Mangals are highly productive, 86% of net productivity is recycled, though a substantial component is exported to the adjacent sublittoral area. Most of the productivity is from leaf falls, of which the majority enters a detritus pathway on the forest floor, where bacteria and fungi break it down. Particles are reduced in time to be consumed by filter feeders and to be flushed out of the system, it is thought that about 25% may be exported to the sea.
Mangals are commercially important in terms of aquatic food species such as penaid shrimps and fish, the mangal is considered to be a nursery for the juvenile stages of such organisms.
Mangals have maximum development and luxuriance in parts of SE Asia, Sumatra and Malaya. Distribution is limited by temperature, ocean currents, shoreline topography, tidal range, salinity and substrate. These all contribute to the often unique composition and zonation of the mangroves and their associated fauna at a particular shore, such that generalisations of zonation are very difficult and only very general patterns can be observed.
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