To celebrate World Mangrove Day 2020, we’re taking a closer look at this important ecosystem and highlighting some of the fascinating mangrove papers that have been published in Journal of Ecology in recent years.
In 2015, in order to raise awareness of the importance of mangrove ecosystems, the General Conference of UNESCO designated 26 July the International Day for the Conservation of the Mangrove Ecosystem.
Mangroves are woody trees with thick, complex roots. There are about 70 different species and they grow in tropical and subtropical coastal regions worldwide. In fact, they are found along the coast of around 118 countries. Mangroves protect the coastline from storms, store a large volume of carbon, act as natural filters for pollutants and are home to a vast array of animal species. They even act as a nursery environment for a wide range of juvenile fish.
Unfortunately, mangroves are also under immense pressure from coastal development, exploitation, land use change and climate change. Increasing awareness of these important ecosystems is vital for the fight to protect and restore them.
Some really interesting research into mangroves has been published in the Journal of Ecology over the past couple of years (and we are always happy to receive more submissions in this area!) Coldren et al. (2018) found that higher temperatures had actually accelerated mangrove expansion in the southeastern United States. Osland et al. (2019) also worked on the effects of temperature on mangroves in North America. They investigated freeze damage, mortality and recovery in the black mangrove (Avicennia germinans). Hayes et al. (2019) also examined freeze tolerance among mangroves, focusing on those within the Gulf of Mexico and along the Florida Atlantic coastline.
Hayes et al. (2018) found that non-saline water sources, including both groundwater and rainwater, are really important for the growth and productivity of a widespread mangrove species on the western side of North Stradbroke Island, Australia. Other research showed mangroves can get water from an even greater variety of sources. Hayes et al. (2020) found that mangroves have the potential to access atmospheric water, such as rain, dew and sea fog, through their leaves. As the availability of other water sources changes, mangroves may need to rely more on this mechanism.
These studies all provide important evidence on the potential responses of mangroves to threats and insights into how to better protect these important ecosystems in the future.
Rhosanna Jenkins Associate Editor for the Journal of Ecology Blog
The Global Mangrove Alliance website has lots of great resources for those looking to raise awareness of the importance of mangrove ecosystems.