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Mangrove Tree

Ecology Of Mangrove Forest

The mangrove environment is stressful to most plants, largely because of the high salt concentrations in water, which are physiologically difficult for most species to deal with. However, mangrove trees can tolerate this stress, and as a result they are able to assemble into forests under these environmental conditions, although these are relatively species-poor ecosystems in comparison with other types of tropical forests.

The mangrove ecosystem is periodically subject to catastrophic disturbance, usually associated with severe windstorms such as hurricanes. These can be energetic enough to uproot and kill mature trees, and to initiate ecological recovery through primary succession. Species of Rhizophora are often the primary mangrove colonist, followed by Avicennia and other secondary species as the ecosystem begins to stabilize and mature.

The patterns of successional dynamics of man-grove forests are related to the environmental tolerances of the species, and often result in distinct community zone types within this ecosystem. Usually the succession culminates in a mature forest of mangrove species. However, in some cases succession in the man-grove ecosystem can sufficiently reduce the influence of tidal waters to allow relatively fresh-water conditions to develop. Under these circumstances succession can result in the development of a relatively species-rich forest that is lacking in mangrove species, because these are not very competitive under the less stressful conditions of fresh water.

Mangrove forests are very effective at binding coastal mud and helping to prevent erosion. This contributes to the development of a stable substrate that enhances the rate of ecosystem development and allows the forest to resist tidal and other disturbances and thereby form a relatively stable ecosystem.

Mangrove forests provides critical nursery habitat for various commercially important species of tropical fish and invertebrates, such as shrimp. These coastal wetlands also provide important habitat for a wide range of non-economic species of wildlife.

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