Uprooted

Valuable mangrove species are at risk of extinction

istock 000006541875xsmall 340x224 UprootedClose to a dozen mangrove species are now threatened, and researchers say the loss of these plants could wreak havoc on coastal economies.

Mangroves are trees, shrubs, and other large plants that live in intertidal zones. They help prevent erosion, store carbon, supply nutrients to other ecosystems, and house valuable marine species. But many mangrove forests are being cleared for aquaculture and other development, the authors say.

A team assessed the state of 70 mangrove species and found that 11 of them were threatened, according to International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN) criteria. Along Central America’s coasts, 40 percent of the area’s mangrove species are at risk of extinction, the researchers report in PLoS ONE.

Losing these forests could mean trouble for fisheries and water quality, the authors say. And while some mangroves are being replanted, rare species could be harder to restore. – Roberta Kwok

Source: Polidoro, B.A. et al. 2010. The loss of species: Mangrove extinction risk and geographic areas of global concern. PLoS ONE 5(4) DOI: 10.1371/journal.pone.0010095.

Image © Bygbaby, iStockPhoto.com

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