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Above and below water view at the edge of the mangal
Above and below water view at the edge of the mangal

Mangroves are woody trees or shrubs that grow in mangrove habitats or mangal (Hogarth, 1999). The mangrove is often considered a type of biome. Mangrove habitat is exclusively tropical and tidal, and therefore having soil or sediment that is water-logged and saline or of variable salinity. Areas where mangal occurs includes estuaries and marine shorelines. A wide variety of plant species can be found in mangrove habitat, but some 54 species in 20 genera, belonging to 16 families constitute the "true mangroves" — species that occur exclusively in mangrove habitats and rarely elsewhere (Hogarth, 1999).

The roots of the mangrove plants stabilize the sand and mud. In areas of the world where mangroves have been removed for development purposes, the coastline has been subject to rapid erosion. They also provide a habitat for wildlife and serve as a natural buffer to strong winds and waves produced by cyclones. In Vietnam, Thailand, the Philippines, and India, mangrove plantations are grown in coastal regions for this purpose.

The mangrove species, Sonneratia, growing on the landward margin of the reef flat on Yap and showing abundant pneumatophores
The mangrove species, Sonneratia, growing on the landward margin of the reef flat on Yap and showing abundant pneumatophores

Species of mangroves

The following listing (after Tomlinson, 1986) gives the number of species of mangroves in each listed plant genus and family.

Major components

Family Avicenniaceae
  • Avicennia – 8
Family Combretaceae
  • Laguncularia – 1
  • Lumnitzera – 2
Family Arecaceae
  • Nypa – 1
Family Rhizophoraceae
  • Bruguiera – 6
  • Ceriops – 2
  • Kandelia – 1
  • Rhizophora – 8
Family Sonneratiaceae
  • Sonneratia – 5

Minor components

Family Bombacaceae
  • Camptostemon – 2
Family Euphorbiaceae
  • Excoecaria – 2
Family Lythraceae
  • Pemphis – 1
Family Meliaceae
  • Xylocarpus – 2
Family Myrsinaceae
  • Aegiceras – 2
Family Myrtaceae
  • Osbornia – 1
Family Pellicieraceae
  • Pelliciera – 1
Family Plumbaginaceae
  • Aegialitis – 2
Family Pteridaceae
  • Acrostichum – 3
Family Rubiaceae
  • Scyphiphora – 1
Family Sterculiaceae
  • Heritiera – 3

Mangrove ecoregions

Afrotropic ecozone

Central African mangroves (Angola, Cameroon, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Equatorial Guinea, Gabon, Ghana, Nigeria)
East African mangroves (Kenya, Mozambique, Tanzania)
Guinean mangroves (Senegal, Gambia, Guinea-Bissau, Guinea, Sierra Leone, Liberia, Côte d'Ivoire)
Madagascar mangroves (Madagascar)
Southern Africa mangroves (Mozambique, South Africa)

Australasia ecozone

New Guinea mangroves (Indonesia)

Indomalaya ecozone

Godavari-Krishna mangroves (India)
Indochina mangroves (Cambodia, Malaysia, Thailand, Vietnam)
Indus River Delta-Arabian Sea mangroves (Pakistan)
Myanmar coast mangroves (India, Malaysia, Myanmar, Thailand)
Sunda Shelf mangroves (Brunei, Indonesia, Malaysia)
Sundarbans mangroves (Bangladesh, India)

Neotropic ecozone

Alvarado mangroves (Mexico)
Amapa mangroves (Brazil)
Bahamian mangroves (Bahamas, Turks and Caicos Islands)
Bahia mangroves (Brazil)
Belizean Coast mangroves (Belize)
Belizean Reef mangroves (Belize)
Bocas del Toro-San Bastimentos Island-San Blas mangroves (Costa Rica, Panama)
Coastal Venezuelan mangroves (Venezuela)
Esmeraldes-Pacific Colombia mangroves (Colombia, Ecuador)
Greater Antilles mangroves (Cuba, Dominican Republic, Haiti, Jamaica, Puerto Rico)
Guianan mangroves (French Guiana, Guyana, Suriname, Venezuela)
Gulf of Fonseca mangroves (El Salvador, Honduras, Nicaragua)
Gulf of Guayaquil-Tumbes mangroves (Ecuador, Peru)
Gulf of Panama mangroves (Panama)
Ilha Grande mangroves (Brazil)
Lesser Antilles mangroves (Lesser Antilles)
Magdalena-Santa Marta mangroves (Colombia)
Manabí mangroves (Ecuador)
Maranhao mangroves (Brazil)
Marismas Nacionales-San Blas mangroves (Mexico)
Mayan Corridor mangroves (Mexico)
Mexican South Pacific Coast mangroves (Mexico)
Moist Pacific Coast mangroves (Costa Rica, Panama)
Mosquitia-Nicaraguan Caribbean Coast mangroves (Costa Rica, Honduras, Nicaragua)
Northern Dry Pacific Coast mangroves (El Salvador, Guatemala)
Northern Honduras mangroves (Guatemala, Honduras)
Pará mangroves (Brazil)
Petenes mangroves (Mexico)
Piura mangroves (Peru)
Ría Lagartos mangroves (Mexico)
Rio Negro-Rio San Sun mangroves (Costa Rica, Nicaragua)
Rio Piranhas mangroves (Brazil)
Rio São Francisco mangroves (Brazil)
Southern Dry Pacific Coast mangroves (Costa Rica, Nicaragua)
Tehuantepec-El Manchon mangroves (Mexico)
Trinidad mangroves (Trinidad and Tobago)
Usumacinta mangroves (Mexico)

Terrestrial biomes
Tropical and subtropical moist broadleaf forests | Tropical and subtropical dry broadleaf forests | Tropical and subtropical coniferous forests | Temperate broadleaf and mixed forests | Temperate coniferous forests | Boreal forests/taiga | Tropical and subtropical grasslands, savannas, and shrublands | Temperate grasslands, savannas, and shrublands | Flooded grasslands and savannas | Montane grasslands and shrublands | Tundra | Mediterranean forests, woodlands, and shrub | Deserts and xeric shrublands | Mangrove
Afrotropic | Antarctic | Australasia | Indomalaya | Nearctic | Neotropic | Oceania | Palearctic


  • Hogarth, Peter J. 1999. The Biology of Mangroves. Oxford Univ. Press. 228 p. ISBN 0198502222
  • Tomlinson, P. B. 1986. The Botany of Mangroves. Cambridge Univ. Press, Cambridge.

External link

  • WWF article about the mangrove biome
  • East African Mangroves

Last updated: 02-07-2005 01:28:55
Last updated: 05-03-2005 17:50:55