At Puerto Rico Nature Photography – Swamp – WildAtPalmas you can find pictures of Puerto Rico and its swamp habitats. A swamp is a wetland that is forested. Many swamps occur along large rivers where they are critically dependent upon natural water level fluctuations. Other swamps occur on the shores of large lakes. Some swamps have hammocks, or dry-land protrusions, covered by aquatic vegetation, or vegetation that tolerates periodic inundation. The water of a swamp may be fresh water, brackish water or seawater. Some of the world’s largest swamps are found along major rivers such as the Amazon, the Mississippi, and the Congo. And yes; these are also found in Puerto Rico.
At Puerto Rico Nature Photography – Swamp – WildAtPalmas you can find pictures of Puerto Rico and its swamp habitats. A swamp is a wetland that is forested. Many swamps occur along large rivers where they are critically dependent upon natural water level fluctuations. Other swamps occur on the shores of large lakes. Some swamps have hammocks, or dry-land protrusions, covered by aquatic vegetation, or vegetation that tolerates periodic inundation. The two main types of swamp are “true” or swamp forests and “transitional” or shrub swamps. In the boreal regions of Canada, the word swamp is colloquially used for what is more correctly termed a bog or muskeg. The water of a swamp may be fresh water, brackish water or seawater. Some of the world’s largest swamps are found along major rivers such as the Amazon, the Mississippi, and the Congo.
Ecologically, mangroves are defined as an assemblage of tropical trees and shrubs that inhabit the coastal intertidal zone. A mangrove community is composed of plant species whose special adaptations allow them to survive the variable flooding and salinity stress conditions imposed by the coastal environment. Therefore, mangroves are defined by their ecology rather than their taxonomy. From a total of approximately 20 plant families containing mangrove species worldwide, only two, Pellicieraceae and Avicenniaceae, are comprised exclusively of mangroves. In the family Rhizophoraceae, for example, only four of its sixteen genera live in mangrove ecosystems (Duke 1992).
Mangrove Distribution and Physical Description
Mangroves worldwide cover an approximate area of 240 000 km2 of sheltered coastlines (Lugo et al. 1990). They are distributed within the tropics and subtropics, reaching their maximum development between 25N and 25S. Their latitudinal distribution is mainly restricted by temperature since perennial mangrove species generally cannot withstand freezing conditions. As a result, mangroves and grass-dominated marshes in middle and high latitudes fill a similar ecological niche.
The global distribution of mangroves is divided into two hemispheres: the Atlantic East Pacific and the Indo West Pacific. The Atlantic East Pacific has fewer species than the Indo West Pacific (12 compared to 58 species, respectively). Species composition is also very different between the two hemispheres. Out of a total of approximately 70 mangrove species, only one, the mangrove fern, is common to both hemispheres.
In the continental United States, mangroves are mainly distributed along the Atlantic and Gulf coasts of Florida. They also occur in Puerto Rico, the U.S. Virgin Islands, Hawaii, and the Pacific Trust Territories. Craighead (1971) estimated a coverage of approximately 1,750 km2 of mangroves along the Florida coast, with the highest development along the southwest coast. The Gulf of Mexico and Caribbean regions are characterized by low species richness, with only four dominant species: Rhizophora mangle (red mangrove), Avicennia germinans (black mangrove), Laguncularia racemosa (white mangrove), and Conocarpus erectus (button-mangrove or buttonwood). Black mangroves, however, can be found as far north as Texas, Louisiana, and Mississippi, indicating this species’ greater tolerance to low temperatures and its ability to recover from freeze damage (Markley et al. 1982; Sherrod et al. 1986).
The California Current, which limits the northern extent of mangroves along the Pacific coast of the Americas, brings cold water as far south as Baja California. At the southern tip of this peninsula, mangroves are represented by an occasional, scrubby black or white mangrove. The mangroves of the Pacific Islands are represented by a very different assemblage of species belonging to the Australasian group. Some of the more characteristic genera include Bruguiera, Rhizophora, Avicennia, Sonneratia, and Ceriops (Tomlinson 1986).
Mangroves colonize protected areas along the coast such as deltas, estuaries, lagoons, and islands. Topographic and hydrological characteristics within each of these settings define a number of different mangrove ecotypes. Four of the most common ecotypes include fringe, riverine, basin, and scrub forests (Lugo and Snedaker 1974; Twilley 1998). A fringe forest borders protected shorelines, canals, and lagoons, and is inundated by daily tides. A riverine forest flanks the estuarine reaches of a river channel and is periodically flooded by nutrient-rich fresh and brackish water. Behind the fringe, interior areas of mangroves harbor basin forests, characterized by stagnant or slow-flowing water. Scrub or dwarf forests grow in areas where hydrology is restricted, resulting in conditions of high evaporation, high salinity, low temperature, or low nutrient status. Such stressful environmental conditions stunt mangrove growth.
Each of these mangrove ecotypes is characterized by different patterns of forest structure, productivity, and biogeochemistry, all of which are controlled by a combination of factors such as hydrology (tides, freshwater discharge, rainfall), soil characteristics, biological interactions, and the effects of storms and other disturbances.
Thanks for visiting us at Puerto Rico Nature Photography – Swamp – WildAtPalmas
This article uses material from the Wikipedia article “Mangrove ecology”, which is released under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share-Alike License 3.0.