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  • Print publication year: 2014
  • Online publication date: June 2014

2 - Global patterns of mangrove extinction risk: implications for ecosystem services and biodiversity loss


What are mangroves?

Mangroves are unique plant species found in tropical and subtropical estuarine and nearshore marine regions worldwide. Mangrove species have several physiological adaptations to saline, water-saturated soils, including viviparous or cryptoviviparous seeds that disperse by water, and salt-exclusion or salt-excretion capabilities to cope with high salt concentrations in nearshore saturated soils and sediments. Many species also have specialized aerial roots, or pneumatophores, that enable oxygenation of roots in water-logged soils. Species restricted to tropical intertidal habitat have been defined as “true mangrove” species, while those not exclusive to this habitat are sometimes referred to as “mangrove associates” (Lugo & Snedaker, 1974). Others include as mangroves any tree, shrub, palm, or ground fern exceeding 0.5 m in height and which normally grows in the intertidal zone of tropical coastal or estuarine environments (Duke, 1992). In view of the global variety of mangrove types and their floristics, there are approximately 70 species of mangroves, which are quite taxonomically diverse, as they represent 17 families (Table 2.1). The Mangrove Reference Database and Herbarium provides a larger overview of all known species, subspecies and hybrids (Massó i Alemán et al., 2010).

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