Mangroves are expert
A global inventory
by McGill University
environmental scientist Gail Chmura found
that mangroves pack
away carbon faster
than terrestrial forests. Every year they
hoard some 42 million
tons, roughly equivalent to the annual
carbon emissions of
25 million cars.
ESTABLISHES DEEP ROOTS
The mangrove depends on its
complex root system for stability,
oxygen, and salt filtration. In
2007 U.S. Geological Survey
scientists analyzing mangrove
roots and soil up to 8,000 years
old found that during periods of
rising sea level, the roots grow
faster and bolster the soil, which
helps hoist the tree upward.
Mangroves are survivors, due to elaborate
root systems that
sprawl above and
below the waterline.
These so-called walking trees coolly shrug
off extreme heat and
muddy topsoil deficient
in oxygen and filter
the salty waters of
southern Florida and
Asia, where the majority of the 73 known
mangrove species live.
Mangroves also help
other species survive,
forming dense forests
that shelter monkeys,
kangaroos, and tigers
as well as shellfish and
brightly colored corals.
Even humans benefit
exploit the tree for
food, lumber, and medicine. But mangrove
forests are dwindling.
Relentless deforestation and powerful
tropical storms have
reduced their habitats
by 35 percent since
ecologists to step up
into the unique ability
of mangroves to survive and protect their
SURVIVES EXTREME HEAT Mangroves love sunshine. Unlike many tropical plants that close the pores
on their leaves at midday to reduce sun exposure, mangroves remain active, absorbing heat to prevent
evaporation of the shallow waters they depend on. They also curb their thirst: A 30-foot mangrove sips
about six gallons per day, while a similar-size pine tree guzzles more than three times that amount.