Outline 1- Mangroves of the Bahamas and South Florida and their Ecological Importance

This topic submitted by Karla Peters ( petersk4@miamioh.edu) at 2:41 PM on 3/14/06.

A view from the air--Where have the forests gone? (Sierpe River Area, SW Costa Rica)

Tropical Field Courses -Western Program-Miami University

Mangroves of the Bahamas and South Florida and their Ecological Importance

I'd like to teach the class everything they ever need to know about mangroves, at least on this trip, namely, what they are (I never realized it is such a general niche and not limited to one family), where they are (all over!), and what kinds we'll be seeing. This topic is important because mangroves really are a very integral part of the ecosystem and have an almost direct impact on the health of the reefs we'll be diving at. Also, mangrove forests (or swamps, really) are not as pretty as reefs and are, therefore, a bit more challenging to get people excited about, and their location on waterfronts makes them especially susceptible to human development (as is the case with Binimi Island and the resort currently being built there; and did you know that they want to build another Club Med, this one on San Sal?)

This outline is pretty basic; I plan on filling in more details (most of which I already have) when time allows.

1) What is a mangrove?
a)Not any one species, or even family, the label of mangrove is used on a variety of trees that fill the same niche. These trees are salt tolerant to differing degrees and can cope with the soil conditions of the intertidal zone.
b) Mangroves are found in tropical and sub-tropical environments all around the world, including east Asia, east Africa, the Caribbean, Australia, and Pacific Islands
c) Major families considered as mangroves
i) Avicenniaceae
ii) Combretaceae
iii) Arecaceae
iv) Rhizophoraceae
d) Thirteen other families make up the rest of the minor groups

2) Overview of species common to the area
a) Red Mangrove, Rhizophora mangle (Family Rhizophoraceae)
i) Most common/well-known
ii) Lives at lowest elevations, highest salinity
iii) Adaptations to environment
(1) Prop roots
(2) Excretion of salt through leaves
b) Black Mangrove, Avicennia germinans (Family Avicenniaceae)
i) Grows at higher elevation than Red mangrove, slightly less salinity
ii) Adaptations to environment
(1) Pneumatophores
(2) Excretion of salt through leaves
c) White Mangrove, Laguncularia racemosa (Family Combretaceae)
i) Grows at very top of tidal zone, brackish water
ii) Adaptations to environment
(1) Salt excreting glands
(2) Peg roots
d) Button Mangrove, Conocarpus erectus (Family Combretaceae)
i) Grows in same zone as White Mangrove
ii) Adaptations to environment
(1) Salt excreting glands

3) Why are mangroves crucial to the environment?
a) Sediment trapping
i) Flood protection
(1) Mangrove grow in low-energy areas, so this is debated
(2) Anecdotal evidence suggests it works; also see Danielsen et al 2005
(3) Erosion protection
b) Nutrient sinks
i) Carbon
ii) Nitrogen
c) Water treatment
i) Can be used in place of septic or sewer system if carefully controlled
ii) Pros: better than destruction, provides more nutrients to the trees
Cons: can pollute human food sources, increased nutrients can have adverse effects (see Onuf et al 1977)
d) Animal habitat
i) Crabs
ii) Migratory birds
iii) Fish hatchery
iv) Shrimp
v) Reptiles
vi) Deer
e) Ecotourism

4) Why are mangroves at risk?
a) Seen as unattractive
i) Mosquitoes, mud, etc.
ii) Block more “scenic” view of waterfront/wildlife
b) Human Development
i) Florida Coast
ii) Binimi Island
iii) Excessive sediment from development smothers mangroves

5) Possible consequences
a) Negative impact on animal species that use mangroves as a habitat
b) Loss of nutrients in soil, negative impact on plant species that coexist with mangroves
c) Erosion
d) Degradation of sea grass beds from excessive sediment
e) Degradation of coral reefs from excessive sediment/nutrients

Sources(Used for Outline):
Ewel, Katherine C.; Robert R. Twilley and Jin Eong Ong. "Different Kinds of Mangrove Forests Provide Different Goods and Services." GLOBAL ECOLOGY AND BIOGEOGRAPHY LETTERS, vol. 7(1): 83-94. 1998

"Species of mangroves" http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mangrove

Eilperin, Juliet. “Wave of Marine Species Extinctions Feared.” THE WASHINGTON POST August 24, 2005 A01

"Mangrove Forest and Wetland Ecosystems" http://www.bahamaschm.org/mangrove_wetlands.htm

Onuf, Christoper P.; John M. Teal and Ivan Valiela. "Interactions of Nutrients, Plant Growth, and Herbivory in a Mangrove Ecosystem." ECOLOGY vol. 58(3): 514-526. 1977

"Mangroves" http://darter.ocps.net/classroom/klenk/FT/Mangroves.html

Danielsen, Finn; Mikael K. SŅrensen, Mette F. Olwig, Vaithilingam Selvam, Faizal Parish, Neil D. Burgess, Tetsuya Hiraishi, Vagarappa M. Karunagaran, Michael S. Rasmussen, Lars B. Hansen, Alfredo Quarto, and Nyoman Suryadiputra. "The Asian Tsunami: A Protective Role for Coastal Vegetation" SCIENCE vol. 310(5748):643. 2005

"Florida Mangroves" http://www.webcoast.com/environment/mangroves.htm

Gerace, Donald T.; Gary K. Ostrander and Garriet W. Smith. “Environment and development in coastal regions and in small islands.” Coastal region and small island papers 3 San Salvador, Bahamas http://www.unesco.org/csi/pub/papers/gerace.htm

Future Sources (I'm working on these):
Hogarth, Peter J. THE BIOLOGY OF MANGROVES New York: Oxford University Press 1999
Tomlinson, P.B. ill. Priscilla Fawcett THE BIOLOGY OF TREES NATIVE TO TROPICAL FLORIDA Allston, Mass.: Harvard University Printing 1980

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