Saenger, Peter Centre for Coastal Management, University of New England, Northern Rivers, Lismore, Australia.
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Any of the taxonomically diverse trees and shrubs that form the dominant plant communities in tidal, saline wetlands along sheltered tropical and subtropical coasts. The various species of mangrove trees and shrubs are important ecological community members of coastal intertidal zones in the tropics and subtropics (Fig. 1). The development and composition of mangrove communities depend largely on temperature, soil type and salinity, duration and frequency of inundation, accretion of silt, tidal and wave energy, and various fortuitous factors, including cyclone or flood frequencies. Extensive mangrove communities seem to correlate with areas in which the water temperature of the warmest month exceeds 24°C (75°F), and these communities are absent from waters that never exceed 24°C (75°F) during the year. Intertidal, sheltered, low-energy, muddy sediments are the most suitable habitats for mangrove communities. Under optimal conditions, mangrove forests up to 45 m (148 ft) in height can develop, such as those in Ecuador, Thailand, and Malaysia. Where less favorable conditions are found, mangrove communities may reach maturity at heights of only 1 m (3.3 ft). See also: Biogeography; Coastal landforms; Ecological communities; Ecosystem; Tree; Wetland
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