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Mangroves: Adaptive mechanisms

Sprawling mangrove forests are often found near the mouths of large tropical rivers with a high sedimentary load. These forests are irreplaceable habitats for many different species of animals, but support a relatively small and monotonous variety of plants. Not many plant species have successfully adapted to the difficult living conditions created by brackish water and tidal flows. Their roots are anchored in the mud, an environment with little oxygen. Mangroves have made up for their environment by evolving snorkel-like roots that rise vertically from the silt, or bent, knee-type roots that arch over the substrate. These roots contain a special air-conducting tissue that permits the exchange of gases between the root and the atmosphere.

The mangroves you see here are growing in fresh water. Though they grow perfectly well, they are naturally only found in brackish water environments. This is because in natural fresh water habitats they cannot successfully compete with other plants adapted to this environment. Many highly specialized plants share this characteristic: only within their particular habitat they have a competitve advantage, in others they are too weak to withstand competition.

Audio file download
Mangroves: Adaptive mechanisms (MP3, 617 KB)

Audio production and copyright: Soundgarden Audioguidance GmbH
Text: Günter Gerlach, Botanischer Garten München-Nymphenburg

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