Tropical Forest Plant Ecophysiology

pp 461-496

Comparative Ecophysiology of Mangrove Forest and Tropical Lowland Moist Rainforest

  • Marilyn C. Ball

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“Mangrove” is an ecological term referring to a taxonomically diverse association of woody trees and shrubs that form the dominant vegetation in tidal, sahne wetlands along tropical and subtropical coasts (Tomlinson, 1986). There, moist lowland rainforest gives way to mangrove vegetation where the forest experiences tidal inundation with saline water. There is an abrupt transition from rainforest, with its high diversity of tree species, to mangrove forest of relatively few species. The diverse assemblage of life forms so common in rainforest gives way to forest where vines, palms, ferns, and epiphytes are poorly represented and conifers are absent (Tomlinson, 1986). For example, Tomlinson (1986) conservatively recorded 114 species from 66 genera in his treatment of the floristics of mangrove forests worldwide, with species richness being greatest in the Indo-Pacific region. Thus, fewer mangrove species are found worldwide than one might encounter in a few hectares of moist tropical forest, particularly in areas supporting the greatest biodiversity (Whitmore, 1992).