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Mangrove: important Brazilian biome

Introduction (what it is)

Mangrove is a typically tropical ecosystem. The vast majority of mangroves in the world are found in the range between the tropics. They are distributed on the oceanic coasts of continents, regions that form a transition between the land environment and the marine environment.

Main features of the mangroves:

The most relevant traits in a mangrove are:

- Tides influence its dynamics, and during high tide, seawater floods the substrate. This is made up of sludge, sand grains, roots, twigs, dead leaves and animal remains.

- The substrate is rich in organic matter and iron sulfide. The latter, in contact with the air layer, may undergo a chemical reaction that results in the production of sulfuric acid. This compound is responsible for the characteristic rotten egg smell. It is a natural phenomenon, having nothing to do with the red tide.

- The various tree species that colonize the substrate are popularly called mangroves. They produce seeds and they remain attached to the plant until after germination. Then the propagules (structure that carries the germinated seed) detach and float in the water until they find a suitable ground for attachment of the embryo.

- Algae, lichens, bromeliads and orchids are life forms associated with mangroves.

The ecological importance of mangrove swamps

Animals of terrestrial and aquatic habits frequent the mangrove swamps. Most marine fish that are exploited by humans for food depend on the mangrove to survive.

When the shrimp are born, they leave the open sea and go to the mangrove swamps. They stay there from the larva stage to the young stage. Then they return to the ocean. Birds such as herons and guards (Eudocimus ruber) use the mangrove branches to build nests and interact with their peers.

Ecological curiosity

In 2018, the Chico Mendes Institute for Biodiversity Conservation (ICMBio) launched the Brazil Mangrove Atlas. Here you can learn, for example, which Brazilian mangroves are in conservation areas.