The Relevance of Mangroves in Climate Change

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  • Topic: Mangrove, Root, Rhizophora mangle
  • Pages : 5 (1491 words )
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  • Published : January 19, 2013
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Mangroves are various kinds of trees up to medium height and shrubs that grow in salinecoastal sediment habitats in the tropics and subtropics – mainly between latitudes 25° N and 25° S. The remaining mangrove forest areas of the world in 2000 was 53,190 square miles (137,760 km²) spanning 118 countries and territories.[1][2] The word is used in at least three senses: (1) most broadly to refer to the habitat and entire plant assemblage ormangal,[3][page needed] for which the terms mangrove forest biome, mangrove swampand mangrove forest are also used, (2) to refer to all trees and large shrubs in the mangrove swamp, and (3) narrowly to refer to the mangrove family of plants, theRhizophoraceae, or even more specifically just to mangrove trees of the genus Rhizophora. The term "mangrove" comes to English from Spanish (perhaps by way of Portuguese), and is of Caribbean origin, likely Taíno. It was earlier "mangrow" (from Portuguese mangue or Spanish mangle), but this was corrupted via folk etymology influence of "grove".

The mangrove biome, or mangal, is a distinct saline woodland or shrubland habitat characterized by depositional coastal environments, where fine sediments (often with high organic content) collect in areas protected from high-energy wave action. Mangroves dominate three-quarters of tropical coastlines.[4] The saline conditions tolerated by various mangrove species range from brackish water, through pure seawater (30 to 40 ppt), to water concentrated by evaporation to over twice the salinity of ocean seawater (up to 90 ppt).[4][5]

An increase in mangroves has been suggested for climate change mitigation.[6][7]

The intertidal existence to which these trees are adapted represents the major limitation to the number of species able to thrive in their habitat. High tide brings in salt water, and when the tide recedes, solar evaporation of the seawater in the soil leads to further increases in salinity. The return of tide can flush out these soils, bringing them back to salinity levels comparable to that of seawater. At low tide, organisms are also exposed to increases in temperature and desiccation, and are then cooled and flooded by the tide. Thus, for a plant to survive in this environment, it must tolerate broad ranges of salinity, temperature, and moisture, as well as a number of other key environmental factors. Unsurprisingly, perhaps, only a select few species make up the mangrove tree community.

About 110 species are considered "mangroves", in the sense of being a tree that grows in such a saline swamp,[5] though only a few are from the mangrove plant genus, Rhizophora. However, a given mangrove swamp typically features only a small number of tree species. It is not uncommon for a mangrove forest in the Caribbean to feature only three or four tree species. For comparison, the tropical rainforest biome contains thousands of tree species, but this is not to say mangrove forests lack diversity. Though the trees themselves are few in species, the ecosystem these trees create provides a home for a great variety of other organisms.

The intertidal existence to which these trees are adapted represents the major limitation to the number of species able to thrive in their habitat. High tide brings in salt water, and when the tide recedes, solar evaporation of the seawater in the soil leads to further increases in salinity. The return of tide can flush out these soils, bringing them back to salinity levels comparable to that of seawater. At low tide, organisms are also exposed to increases in temperature and desiccation, and are then cooled and flooded by the tide. Thus, for a plant to survive in this environment, it must tolerate broad ranges of salinity, temperature, and moisture, as well as a number of other key environmental factors. Unsurprisingly, perhaps, only a select few species make up the mangrove tree community.

Of the recognized 110 mangrove species, only about 54 species in 20 genera from...
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