Thursday, February 2, 2012

FTV 2/2/2012 Mangrove Wetland Ecosystems of Ecuador

Mangroves are large trees that grow in wetlands in Ecuador, These mangroves live on land but they are able to survive with their roots in salt water. Vast forests of mangroves grow along the river shoreline. These trees stand over the dark waters, with their interlocking roots forming a tangle on the damp river edge.

Mangroves trap silt from slow flowing river water to form new land. This helps prevent tidal erosion and traps nutrients that nourish the ecosystem. Migratory waterfowl, wading birds, and small mammals thrive on crabs, mussels, and other tiny creatures that inhabit the waters around the shore. Some mangrove trees filter the salt out of the brackish river water, and other mangrove tree species can excrete salt through special glands, as a result these mudflats are rich in nutrients providing a good source of food for marine organisms.

These ecosystems provide nurseries for fish and marine invertebrates as well as providing shelter for wildlife, and protection from coastal erosion; however this important ecosystem is being threatened by coastal development A typical food web for this ecosystem includes microorganisms that grown in the mud which provide food for larger organism such as shrimps, and crabs. These shrimp and crabs attract birds, mammals, and other small reptiles such as lizards that provide food for larger species such as raccoons, coyotes, snakes and large wading birds.

To learn more about other marine ecosystems try this activity.

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