Sandwiched between two of the world's iconic tropical ecosystems of coral reefs and rainforests, are two important coastal communities: mangroves and seagrasses (Fig. 16.1). While corals flourish in shallow warm seas, and rainforests cover wetter upland regions, mangroves inhabit the sheltered intertidal margins barely above mean sea level. Seagrasses occupy depths from intertidal to deeper habitats, depending on the clarity of the water column. These biota-structured ecosystems play an important role in coastal processes with highly developed linkages and connectivity between them, and to the neighbouring communities represented by coral reefs and rainforests. These relationships appear vital to the survival of each. For example, while sediment-loving mangroves depend on waters sheltered by coral reef structures, they in turn protect hypersensitive corals from excessive sediments and nutrients coming down from surrounding catchments.
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