III Mexican Congress on Mangrove Ecosystems

This past September 24th, the El Salado Estuary held the inaugural conferences for the III Mexican Congress on Mangrove Ecosystems, a four-day space dedicated to celebrating and sharing the knowledge accrued on these fascinating ecosystems. Reflecting the complexity of complexity of mangrove ecosystems, presenters and attendees at the conference included not only the expected biologists, ecologists, botanists and zoologists, but also hydrobiologists, biochemists, geophysicists, community activists and lawyers.
Mangroves are masters of adaptation and survival, thriving in the dynamic conditions which result from the meeting of rivers’ freshwater and the ocean’s salt water. Their adaptations can sometimes seem straight out of an alien planet: “walking” roots which let them follow the flow of freshwater and endure the strongest tides, waves and storm surges, root “snorkels” (properly called pneumatophores) sticking out of the anoxic soil, reaching up to the air to breathe, salt secreting glands which allow them to survive in brackish waters, and saplings which begin to grow while still attached to their parents (vivipary in trees!). In fact, each species of mangrove is so well adapted and highly specialized, that they settle in strong zonation patterns along the salinity gradient of the water.
Mangrove forests are not only beautiful and interesting, but they provide critical ecosystem services for the planet and for mankind.
For example, mangrove roots are some of the most important nurseries for coral reef fish and commercial fisheries as well. The high complexity of this system allows biodiversity to explode among its canals, roots and branches, providing a home for innumerable fish, mollusks, crustaceans, birds and even reptiles and mammals.
Mangroves have been proven to provide an almost unparalleled level of coastal protection. Their dense root system stabilizes coastlines, prevents erosion and absorbs the destructive force of hurricanes, storm surges, and even tidal waves.
Recently, they have also gained attention in the study of global warming for their importance as carbon sinks, sequestering CO2 from the atmosphere and trapping it in its tissues and soils. In all, it is estimated that mangrove forests across the world provided about $1.6 billion US dollars’ worth of ecosystem services per year.
There is still a lot we do not know about mangrove forests, however, you can go explore and get to know a small part of these intriguing ecosystems by taking a moment out of your day to go explore the new self-guided path at the El Salado Estuary. For more information, you can visit http://www.esterodelsalado.org/ or call them at (322) 2262870

One comment

  1. I found this article to be very interesting and informative: “walking” roots ; masters of adaption and survival; root “snorkels” sticking out of the soil to breath; and salt secreting glands. It sounds more like some form of an animal than a tree.

    However trees were on Earth long before animals. And people walk, breath , have salt secreting glands, and are masters of adaption. They also talk, and can see sunlight. So can trees. Leaves will turn to face the sunlight, and Burch trees can communicate with Burch trees further down the stream when attacked by beetles , and fungus, and permit the other trees respond in advance to protect themselves.

    As an advent gardener , I always speak to my plants and trees, and they seem to respond in positive ways. I thought about this as I went to a local nursery once, and asked the person in charge if plants talk to him, and he said “Yes of course they do”. So there is the secrete of having a green thumb when it comes to growing plants.

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