Airdate: Dec 15, 2004
Scientist: Ivan Valiela (Valley -ella)
Acting as filters, fish nurseries, and a source of food for shellfish, mangroves are a critical ecosystem.
ambience: Sierra Valley, marsh
You'll find them in the warmer climates of our planet, like a living filter between land and sea. Whether they're made up of trees, grasses, or salt marshes, mangroves are a crucial part of the world's coastal environments. I'm Jim Metzner, and this is the Pulse of the Planet.
"Coastal mangrove forests provide a really important ecological role, in that they act as filters for a number of land-derived materials and not only that, they're also so rich in terms of potential food for other organisms - shellfish and juvenile fish."
Ivan Valiela is a professor of biology at Boston University's Marine Program at the Marine Biological Laboratory in Woods Hall, Massachusetts.
"Fish that live offshore in reefs or elsewhere use these coastal forests as places in which the young can grow. They're nursery areas. So there's a whole bunch of environmental reasons why these environments need to be conserved because they play a really significant role in conserving the kinds of populations that we're interested in a larger sense, whether it's economic because shrimp fishery depends on them. In fact, the more wetlands there are in a coastline, the larger the shrimp fishery will be offshore. There's a recent paper that confirms that, in fact, a significantly large proportion of fish from coral reefs use mangroves as nursery areas. So you can accumulate a large set of arguments that this thin strand of mangrove that's set between land and sea play really significant ecological roles."
We'll hear more on mangroves in future programs. Pulse of the Planet is made possible by the National Science Foundation. I'm Jim Metzner.