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Mangrove Wetlands

A mangrove wetland can be one of the most productive ecosystems in world given two factors, the right movement of water allowing suspended material to move in and out of the wetland and freshwater runoff. The flux of water moves nutrients around and carries away dead material, making them available as food for marine life. The incoming freshwater dilutes the saltiness of the water, making it easier for the mangrove to excrete salt, so that it can use the photosynthetic energy for growth. As mangroves die, their root systems and litter become peat.

Development pressures on coastal wetlands have reduced their size by severely over the last 40 years. With this loss of coastal wetlands, a subsequent decline in the animal and plant life supported by these ecosystems – including a number of commercial fish - has been observed. In order to better protect this vital ecosystem, the 1996 Florida State Mangrove Trimming and Preservation Act limits the removal and trimming of mangroves on public and private property.

Mangroves are tropical trees that have adapted to salt water and wave activity. There are three species of mangroves in Florida. They are related by the way they have adapted to a mutual habitat, but are actually members of different plant families

Red Mangrove

The red mangrove (Rhizophora mangle) is most commonly recognized by its "prop" roots. They sometimes begin very high up on the trunk, arch out and then down into the soil. These roots provide tremendous support for the tree, which is necessary since it encounters rigorous waves, varying tides, and frequent storms. This root system also allows the mangrove to receive oxygen that is needed for growth that would otherwise not be available from water-saturated soil. Many marine organisms use this root system as a nursery ground, and these roots act as an anchor, protecting the shoreline from eroding

Black Mangrove

The black mangrove (Avicennia germinans) root system is opposite of the red mangrove. It extends down into the soil from the trunk and its ends come upward out of the ground, sometimes as much as a foot. These outcroppings are termed pneumataphores and their function is to exchange gas. This mangrove is found in the interior of the swamp, where tidal action is not as severe.

White Mangrove

The white mangrove (Laguncularia racemosa) can occur almost anywhere in a swamp, but is mostly found in higher elevations, such as the inland edges of the swamp. The root system can vary depending on the conditions of the swamp, and its distinguishing feature is the two glandular openings on the leaf stem.

Another species that can often be found is the Green buttonwood (Conocarpus erecta). This species is a member of the white mangrove family and also resides around the edges of the mangrove swamp. This species is restricted to South Florida due to its frost intolerance

Mangrove Permitting

A Class I permit is required prior to doing any work in, on, over, or upon the tidal waters (including wetlands) of Miami-Dade County or any of its incorporated municipalities.

Back to Top Page Last Edited: Thu Dec 12, 2013 2:01:46 PM

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