Introduction

Mangroves refer to a unique group of forested wetlands that dominate the intertidal zone of tropical and subtropical coastal landscapes generally between 25° N and 25° S latitude. These tropical forests grow along continental margins between land and the sea across the entire salinity spectrum from nearly freshwater (oligohaline) to marine (euhaline) conditions. The coastal forests also inhabit nearly every type of coastal geomorphic formation from riverine deltas to oceanic reefs - another example of the tremendous 'biodiversity' of mangrove ecosystems. Mangroves are trees considered as a group of halophytes with species from 12 genera in eight different families. A total of 36 species has been described from the Indo-West-Pacific area, but fewer than ten species are found in the new world tropics. The term mangroves may best define a specific type of tree, whereas mangrove wetlands refers to whole-plant associations with other community assemblages in the intertidal zone, similar to the term 'mangal' introduced by Macnae to refer to swamp ecosystems. In addition, the habitats of tropical estuaries consist of a variety of primary producers and secondary consumers distributed in bays and lagoons that have the intertidal zone dominated by mangrove wetlands. These may be referred to as mangrove-dominated estuaries.

There are numerous reviews and books that describe the ecology and management of mangroves around the world, including references describing techniques to study the ecology of mangrove wetlands.

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