What Are Mangrove Forests and Why Are They Important

How does this coastal woodland develop and can it really be as important as rainforest?

A mangrove is a highly adapted type of tree of which there are around 70 known species from several families of plants that include palms and holly trees. They’re highly adapted to saline marshes and swamps along the coast or in estuarine areas, depending on very soft soils and tides that wash over their roots twice a day.

Most species are resistant to the heat and especially the extreme salinity of their environment that kills most other plants. All have adaptations that allow their roots to breathe in waterlogged soil, either by the prop roots and buttresses mangrove trees are famous for, or roots that stick out of the mud and take in air like snorkels, called pneumatophores.

What Are Mangrove ForestsMost people tend to associate the word ‘mangrove’ with the ecosystem a mangrove forest provides, in the same way the word ‘rainforest’ broadly describes its environment.

Rainforests and mangroves have a lot in common too: they’re both found in many equatorial regions of the world; they support an enormous array of plant and animal life; and the forests themselves play just as vital a role in the region around them. They help to stabilize land by reducing sediment washing out to sea, provide a shield from tsunamis and prevent saltwater contamination of inland bodies of water like aquifers.

Salty waters

Saltwater can be poisonous to plant life. Too much salt results in plant tissue salt saturation that interferes with metabolic processes and swiftly causes death.

Mangrove ForestsSo how do mangroves survive? Mangrove plants exhibit one of two main adaptations to deal with excess salt. Some are ultrafiltrators and can selectively absorb specific ions in water, leaving behind up to 97 per cent of the sodium at the roots. The remainder of the salt is removed through transpiration. Another method is to secrete salt in a concentrated solution through special glands, which crystallizes on the surface of the plant and is removed by wind or rain.

Top questions about mangroves

What are mangrove seeds called? Mangrove seed pods are buoyant and viviparous (the seeds germinate while attached to the tree) to survive salty waters.

What are mangrove roots? The loose soil of marshes doesn’t make for very solid foundations, but a complex weave of roots keeps these mangrove trunks upright.

What are mangrove animals? Mangrove inhabitants include shrimp and these mudskippers, but they’re also home to endangered species like the manatee.

Read also this article How Do Jaguars Survive In The Rainforest!