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Mangroves

Mangrove forest on the northern coastline of Australia Mangrove forests are found on sheltered bays and estuaries along many tropical coastlines. They are formed in places where flowing salt water lays down mud and other sediments, resulting in swampy land. The roots of mangrove trees are flooded with salt water when the tide comes in. To avoid drowning, mangrove trees have shallow root systems that form branches above the water line. This allows them to breathe and also acts as a support for the rest of the tree. The tangled mass of roots traps nutrient-rich mud which, in turn, provides food for many kinds of animals.


A map showing mangrove forests around the world (in green)
Animals of a Southeast Asian mangrove forest. Wading birds such as storks feed on crabs and fish, while smaller birds hunt for...Read More >>Animals of a Southeast Asian mangrove forest. Wading birds such as storks feed on crabs and fish, while smaller birds hunt for insects and snails. The proboscis monkey (so-called because of the male’s long, drooping, trunk-like nose, or proboscis) clambers through the trees. It swims through flooded areas of forest, but must beware of hungry tigers, crocodiles and giant snakes.

Animal life

The trees and plants of a mangrove forest are home to numerous insects, while many kinds of fish swim through the shallow water between the tangled roots. Crabs, sea snails and other small creatures burrow into or crawl across the mud. These animals provide food for frogs and a wide variety of birds. Several kinds of monkey clamber between the trees, feeding on fruits and leaves. They need to be constantly on the lookout for large predators, such as snakes and crocodiles, which slip through the water or bask on the mudflats.
 
 

Unlike most plants, whose seeds are dispersed and germinate in the soil, mangrove seeds germinate while they are still attached to the tree.

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