Black Mangrove (Avicennia germinans) has a broad tropical distribution. Avicennia includes about 15 species, mostly restricted to coastal tidal regions in the tropics (Elias 1980). Tree and shrub species are described as mangroves based on their ecology rather than evolutionary relatedness, so mangrove species represent numerous plant families.
Black Mangrove groves are virtually impenetrable because of the dense branches. The trees produce numerous upright, unbranched roots (pneumatophores) above water and around the edges of the trees to provide the extensive root system with air. These pneumatophores also trap detritus brought in by the tides. (Elias 1980)
General: Black mangrove is a subtropical native woody shrub that grows in salt marshes. Mangroves are very hardy, having become adapted to harsh environments where water and salinity levels fluctuate. Pneumatophores, or breather roots, form a network, collecting silt and debris and controlling erosion.
The pneumatophores are also excellent nursery areas for crustaceans in the marsh plant community. Height will vary from 4 to 9 feet. Leaves are 1 to 5 inches long, elliptical, opposite, thick, leathery, dark green, glabrous (smooth) above, and grayish with a tight felt-like pubescence beneath. Glands on the underside secrete salt. Clusters of small sessile flowers with white petals, approximately ½ inch in diameter, are borne in the leaf axils or growing tips on the twigs. The fruit are flat, approximately 1 inch long, dark green and glabrous beneath a velvety pericarp. The bark on the black mangrove is thick, dark brown or blackish, with rough irregular flattened scales. Twigs are grayish in color and smooth, with enlargements at the joints. Mangrove detritus (dead leaves and twigs) in water feeds microorganisms that provide food for young marine life.
Distribution: For current distribution, please consult the Plant Profile page for this species on the PLANTS Web site.
Habitat: Black mangrove grows in the intertidal zone throughout the Gulf of Mexico. Black mangrove is a truly unique plant species that, when established properly, and under applicable conditions, has provided land stabilization due to the easy transport of seedlings, quick aerial root production, Best practice has been to plant two to three year old seedlings because underground root systems increase sediment holding capabilities. This plant also provides for wildlife and marine habitats. (USDA/NRCS Plant Guide: Small, J.K 1933.)
Avicennia germinans, commonly known as the black mangrove, is found in tropical and subtropical mangrove forests ranging from the southeastern United States in North America to Brazil in South America. It is found along both coasts of Central America, as well as West Africa and Australia (Kathiresan and Bingham 2001). They flourish in brackish waters, where tidal ocean saltwater mixes with freshwater from streams, and thus must be able to withstand a wide range of salinities (Suarez et al. 1998). A. germinans is a shrub or tree that can reach up to 20 m tall and is characterized by distinct root structures known as pneumatophores (Zuchowski 2007). The trunk is straight and the grey bark is generally fissured. The simple opposite leaves are long and narrow, often shiny green and leathery, and have short petioles (Condit et al. 2011).
Like all mangroves, A. germinans is adapted to deal with high salt environments in muddy, anaerobic soils. A. germinans has a very large salt tolerance, ranging from freshwater to water with three times the salinity of seawater (Sobrado 1999). This reflects the ability of this tree to grow in saltwater basins that frequently exhibit salinity higher than that of seawater (Saenger 2002). A. germinans is able to withstand these intense salinity levels through the ability to excrete salt through glands on the surface of the leaves, increasing the salt tolerance of the plant (Griffiths 2008).
Thin, pencil-like pneumatophores emerge from the thick mud substrate in which the tree is found, an adaption that allows A. germinans to colonize anaerobic substrates (Thibodeau and Nickerson 1986). These root structures aid in gas exchange when they are exposed to the air, a mechanism that allows this tree to flourish even though the substrate conditions fail to provide the tree with necessary oxygen (Tomlinson 1994). The pneumatophores are connected to a horizontal root system that allows the tree to send roots wide in search of nutrients and oxygen, but not deep into the anaerobic soil (Zuchowski 2007).
Small insects and bees are thought to pollinate A. germinans (Landry 2013). Water remains the key dispersal mechanism. A. germinans seedlings are equipped for this dispersal method due to their buoyancy, high salinity tolerance, and cryptoviviparous nature (Alleman and Hester 2011). Propagules germinate on the mother tree and the seedling pierces the seed coat but not the pericarp, allowing the germinated seedling to experience maximum nutrient acquisition while still maintaining the ability to withstand long dispersal times in saltwater (Das and Ghose 2003).
Conservation of A. germinans remains an important and contested issue in many areas. As shorelines are being developed more and more mangrove forests are being cut down (Valiela et al 2001). These mangrove forests are not only important homes for wildlife, but also help to reduce erosion of shoreline in tidal salt marshes and maintain barrier islands, which are an important natural protection from tropical storms. The pneumatophores help to trap organic matter and sediment, and can actually be used to rebuild shorelines and restore wetland habitats (United States Department of Agriculture 2005).
Black Mangrove (Avicennia germinans) is very widely distributed along tropical silty seashores of Bermuda; throughout most of the West Indies; in the southeastern U.S. along both coasts of northern Florida to the Florida Keys, Mississippi, Louisiana, and Texas; along both coasts of Mexico south along Central America to Ecuador, northwestern Peru, the Galapagos Islands, and Brazil; and along the west coast of Africa. (Little and Wadsworth 1964)
The Black Mangrove (A. germinans) is distributed along the tropical and subtropical coasts of the American continent, the Caribbean islands, and West Africa. Three geographical units can be defined, including east Pacific (American Pacific), west Atlantic (American Atlantic and Caribbean), and east Atlantic (West Africa) (Nettel and Dodd 2007)
Avicennia germinans is a widespread mangrove species occupying the west coast of Africa and the Atlantic and Pacific coasts of the Americas from the Bahamas to Brazil and Baja California to Peru (Dodd et al. 2002).
Black Mangrove reaches its northern limit in the northern hemisphere in Florida, Louisiana, and Texas, where in recent decades it has been moving northward into temperate salt marshes typically dominated by the salt marsh grass Spartina alterniflora. In Louisiana marshes, Black Mangroves were historically restricted to the southernmost barrier islands and beaches by winter freeze events. However, in recent years freeze-free winters have facilitated a noticeable expansion of Black Mangrove northward into Spartina marshes. Nearly two decades of warm winter temperatures in coastal Louisiana have facilitated this northward expansion. (Perry and Mendelssohn 2009)
It has been noted in a discontinuous distribution on the Pacific coast of South America from Puerto Lobos, Mexico (3015') south to Piura River, Peru (532') (de Lacerda 2002) including the Galapagos Islands, Cocos and Malpelo Islands.
It is also noted from West Africa (Angola, Benin and Togo, Cameroon, Congo, Cte d'Ivoire, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Equatorial Guinea, Gabon, Gambia, Ghana, Guinea, Guinea-Bisau, Liberia, Mauritania, Nigeria, Sao Tom and Principe, Senegal, and Sierra Leone.
The distribution of this species in Brazil is somewhat in question as the species may be mis-identified as A. germinans when in fact it is A. schaueriana (Tomlinson 1995).
Regularity: Regularly occurring
Global Range: Found in Florida, Texas, Bahamas, Antilles, Galapagos, Mexico, Panama, Peru, other parts of Central America and other parts of South America. Occurs in Panamanian provinces of Bocas del Toro, Canal Area, Cocle, Colon, Los Santos, Panama and San Blas (D'arcy 1987).
Black Mangrove adaptation is in the sub-tropical to tropical Gulf of Mexico in intertidal zones.
This plant is susceptible to freezing and the native range can be changed drastically by hard winters. The contributions of genetic diversity and habitat are presently under study to determine cold hardiness.
Black Mangrove has opposite, oblong to elliptical, evergreen leaves, 5 to 12 cm long and 2 to 4 cm wide, with smooth, slightly curled margins; the leaves are hairy below. The upper leaf surface is yellow-green and often shiny, the lower surface gray-green, often with scattered salt crystals apparent on both surfaces. The small 4-lobed white flowers, about 0.5 cm long and 1 cm across, are borne in terminal clusters up to 4 cm long. The fruit is a compressed (flattened) 2-valved and 1-seeded capsule 3 to 5 cm long that is yellow-green and finely hairy, with unequal sides. The bark of larger trees is dark reddish brown and scaly, with orange-red inner bark sometimes exposed between the scales. (Little and Wadsworth 1964; Brockman 1968; Elias 1980)
In Florida and the adjacent Gulf Coast, Black Mangrove reaches about 10 meters, but in much of its broad range it may grow to more than twice this height (Brockman 1968; Elias 1980).
Information of Avicennia germinans
Black Mangrove (Avicennia germinans) has a broad tropical distribution. Avicennia includes about 15 species, mostly restricted to coastal tidal regions in the tropics (Elias 1980). Tree and shrub species are described as mangroves based on their ecology rather than evolutionary relatedness, so mangrove species represent numerous plant families.
Habit: Black mangrove grows in the intertidal zone throughout the Gulf of Mexico. Black mangrove is a truly unique plant species that, when established properly, and under applicable conditions, has provided land stabilization due to the easy transport of seedlings, quick aerial root production, Best practice has been to plant two to three year old seedlings because underground root systems increase sediment holding capabilities. This plant also provides for wildlife and marine habitats. (USDA/NRCS Plant Guide: Small, J.K 1933.)
Distribution: in marine ecologycal in indonesian and other pasific region.
Species: Avicennia germinans
An excellent resource for identifying the mangroves of Florida can be found at http://www.selby.org/
Marismas Nacionales-San Blas Mangroves Habitat
This taxon is found in the Marismas Nacionales-San Blas mangroves ecoregion contains the most extensive block of mangrove ecosystem along the Pacific coastal zone of Mexico, comprising around 2000 square kilometres. Mangroves in Nayarit are among the most productive systems of northwest Mexico. These mangroves and their associated wetlands also serve as one of the most important winter habitat for birds in the Pacific coastal zone, by serving about eighty percent of the Pacific migratory shore bird populations.
Although the mangroves grow on flat terrain, the seven rivers that feed the mangroves descend from mountains, which belong to the physiographic province of the Sierra Madre Occidental. The climate varies from temperate-dry to sub-humid in the summer, when the region receives most of its rainfall (more than 1000 millimetres /year).
Red Mangrove (Rhizophora mangle), Black Mangrove (Avicennia germinans), Buttonwood (Conocarpus erectus) and White Mangrove trees (Laguncularia racemosa) occur in this ecoregion. In the northern part of the ecoregion near Teacapán the Black Mangrove tree is dominant; however, in the southern part nearer Agua Brava, White Mangrove dominates. Herbaceous vegetation is rare, but other species that can be found in association with mangrove trees are: Ciruelillo (Phyllanthus elsiae), Guiana-chestnut (Pachira aquatica), and Pond Apple (Annona glabra).
There are are a number of reptiles present, which including a important population of Morelet's Crocodile (Crocodylus moreletii) and American Crocodile (Crocodylus acutus) in the freshwater marshes associated with tropical Cohune Palm (Attalea cohune) forest. Also present in this ecoregion are reptiles such as the Green Iguana (Iguana iguana), Mexican Beaded Lizard (Heloderma horridum) and Yellow Bellied Slider (Trachemys scripta). Four species of endangered sea turtle use the coast of Nayarit for nesting sites including Leatherback Turtle (Dermochelys coriacea), Olive Ridley Turtle (Lepidochelys olivacea), Hawksbill Turtle (Eretmochelys imbricata) and Green Turtle (Chelonia mydas).
A number of mammals are found in the ecoregion, including the Puma (Puma concolor), Ocelot (Leopardus pardalis), Jaguar (Panthera onca), Southern Pygmy Mouse (Baiomys musculus), Saussure's Shrew (Sorex saussurei). In addition many bat taxa are found in the ecoregion, including fruit eating species such as the Pygmy Fruit-eating Bat (Artibeus phaeotis); Aztec Fruit-eating Bat (Artibeus aztecus) and Toltec Fruit-eating Bat (Artibeus toltecus); there are also bat representatives from the genus myotis, such as the Long-legged Myotis (Myotis volans) and the Cinnamon Myotis (M. fortidens).
There are more than 252 species of birds, 40 percent of which are migratory, including 12 migratory ducks and approximately 36 endemic birds, including the Bumblebee Hummingbird, (Atthis heloisa) and the Mexican Woodnymph (Thalurania ridgwayi). Bojórquez considers the mangroves of Nayarit and Sinaloa among the areas of highest concentration of migratory birds. This ecoregion also serves as wintering habitat and as refuge from surrounding habitats during harsh climatic conditions for many species, especially birds; this sheltering effect further elevates the conservation value of this habitat.
Some of the many representative avifauna are Black-bellied Whistling Duck (Dendrocygna autumnalis), Great Blue Heron (Ardea herodias), Roseate Spoonbill (Ajaia ajaja), Snowy Egret (Egretta thula), sanderling (Calidris alba), American Kestrel (Falco sparverius), Blue-winged Teal (Anas discors), Mexican Jacana (Jacana spinosa), Elegant Trogan (Trogan elegans), Summer Tanager (Piranga rubra), White-tailed Hawk (Buteo albicaudatus), Merlin (Falco columbarius), Plain-capped Starthroat (Heliomaster constantii), Painted Bunting (Passerina ciris) and Wood Stork (Mycteria americana).
Belizean Coast Mangroves Habitat
This species is found in the Belizean coast mangroves ecoregion (part of the larger Mesoamerican Gulf-Caribbean mangroves ecoregion), extending along the Caribbean Coast from Guatemala, and encompassing the mangrove habitat along the shores of the Bahía de Annatique; this ecoregion continues along the Belizean coast up to the border with Mexico. The Belizean coast mangroves ecoregion includes the mainland coastal fringe, but is separate from the distinct ecoregion known as the Belizean reef mangroves which are separated from the mainland. This ecoregion includes the Monterrico Reserve in Guatemala, the estuarine reaches of the Monkey River and the Placencia Peninsula. The ecoregion includes the Burdon Canal Nature Reserve in Belize City, which reach contains mangrove forests and provides habitat for a gamut of avian species and threatened crocodiles.
Pygmy or scrub mangrove forests are found in certain reaches of the Belizean mangroves. In these associations individual plants seldom surpass a height of 150 centimetres, except in circumstances where the mangroves grow on depressions filled with mangrove peat. Many of the shrub-trees are over forty years old. In these pygmy mangrove areas, nutrients appear to be limiting factors, although high salinity and high calcareous substrates may be instrumental. Chief disturbance factors are due to hurricanes and lightning strikes, both capable of causing substantial mangrove treefall. In many cases a pronounced gap is formed by lightning strikes, but such forest gaps actually engender higher sapling regrowth, due to elevated sunlight levels and slightly diminished salinity in the gaps.
Chief mangrove tree species found in this ecoregion are White Mangrove (Laguncularia racemosa), Red Mangrove (Rhizophora mangle), Black Mangrove (Avicennia germinans); the Button Mangrove (Conocarpus erectus) is a related tree associate. Red mangrove tends to occupy the more seaward niches, while Black mangrove tends to occupy the more upland niches. Other plant associates occurring in this ecoregion are Dragonsblood Tree (Pterocarpus officinalis), Guiana-chestnut (Pachira aquatica) and Golden Leatherfern (Acrostichum aureum).
In addition to hydrological stabilisation leading to overall permanence of the shallow sea bottom, the Belizean coastal zone mangrove roots and seagrass blades provides abundant nutrients and shelter for a gamut of juvenile marine organisms. A notable marine mammal found in the shallow seas offshore is the threatened West Indian Manatee (Trichecus manatus), who subsists on the rich Turtle Grass (Thalassia hemprichii) stands found on the shallow sea floor.
Wood borers are generally more damaging to the mangroves than leaf herbivores. The most damaging leaf herbivores to the mangrove foliage are Lepidoptera larvae. Other prominent herbivores present in the ecoregion include the gasteropod Littorina angulifera and the Mangrove Tree Crab, Aratus pisonii.
Many avian species from further north winter in the Belizean coast mangroves, which boast availability of freshwater inflow during the dry season. Example bird species within or visiting this ecoregion include the Yucatan Parrot (Amazona xantholora), , Yucatan Jay (Cyanocorax yucatanicus), Black Catbird (Dumetella glabrirostris) and the Great Kiskadee (Pitangus sulfuratus)
Upland fauna of the ecoregion include paca (Agouti paca), coatimundi (Nasua narica), Baird’s Tapir (Tapirus bairdii), with Black Howler Monkey (Alouatta caraya) occurring in the riverine mangroves in the Sarstoon-Temash National Park. The Mantled Howler Monkey (Alouatta palliata) can be observed along the mangrove fringes of the Monkey River mouth and other portions of this mangrove ecoregion.
Other aquatic reptiian species within the ecoregion include Morelet's Crocodile (Crocodylus moreletti), Green Turtle (Chelonia mydas), Hawksbill Sea Turtle (Eretmochelys imbricata), Loggerhead Sea Turtle (Caretta caretta), and Kemp’s Ridley (Lepidochelys kempi).
Rio Negro-Rio San Sun Mangroves Habitat
This taxon occurs in the Rio Negro-Rio San Sun mangroves, which consists of a disjunctive coastal ecoregion in parts of Costa Rica, extending to the north slightly into Nicaragua and south marginally into Panama. Furthermore, this species is not necessarily restricted to this ecoregion. Mangroves are sparse in this ecoregion, and are chiefly found in estuarine lagoons and small patches at river mouths growing in association with certain freshwater palm species such as the Yolillo Palm (Raphia taedigera), which taxon has some saline soil tolerance, and is deemed a basic element of the mangrove forest here. These mangrove communities are also part of a mosaic of several habitats that include mixed rainforest, wooded swamps, coastal wetlands, estuarine lagoons, sand backshores and beaches, sea-grasses, and coral reefs.
The paucity of mangroves here is a result of the robust influx of freshwater to the coastline ocean zone of this ecoregion. Among the highest rates of rainfall in the world, this ecoregion receives over six metres (m) a year at the Nicaragua/ Costa Rica national border. Peak rainfall occurs in the warmest months, usually between May and September. A relatively dry season occurs from January to April, which months coincides with stronger tradewinds. Tides are semi-diurnal and have a range of less than one half metre.
Mangroves play an important role in trapping sediments from land that are detrimental to the development of both coral reefs and sea grasses that are associated with them. Mangrove species including Rhizopora mangle, Avicennia germinans, Laguncularia racemosa, Conocarpus erecta and R. harrisonii grow alone the salinity gradient in appropriate areas. Uncommon occurrences of Pelliciera rhizophorae and other plant species associated with mangroves include Leather ferns Acrostichum spp., which also invade cut-over mangrove stands and provide some protection against erosion. In this particular ecoregion, the mangroves are associated with the indicator species, freshwater palm, Raphia taedigera. Other mangrove associated species are Guiana-chestnut ( Pachira aquatica) and Dragonsblood Tree (Pterocarpus officinalis).
Reptiles include the Basilisk Lizard (Basiliscus basiliscus), Caiman (Caiman crocodilus), Green Sea Turtle (Chelonia mydas), Leatherback Turtle (Dermochelys coriacea) and Green Iguana (Iguana iguana). The beaches along the coast within this ecoregion near Tortuguero are some of the most important for nesting green turtles. The offshore seagrass beds, which are among the most extensive in the world, are a source of food and refuge for the endangered Green Sea Turtle (Chelonia mydas). Several species of frogs of the family Dendrobatidae are found in this mangrove ecoregion as well other anuran species and some endemic salamander taxa.
Mammal species found in this highly diverse ecoregion include: Lowland Paca (Agouti paca), primates such as Mantled Howler Monkey (Alouatta palliata), Geoffrey's Spider Monkey (Ateles geoffroyi), White-faced Capuchin (Cebus capucinus), Brown-throated Sloth (Bradypus variegatus), Silky Anteater (Cyclopes didactylus) and Nine-banded Armadillo (Dasypus novemcintus). Also found in this ecoregion are carnivores such as Ocelot (Leopardus pardalis), Central American Otter (Lutra annectens), Jaguar (Panthera onca), Northern Racooon (Procyoon lotor), and Crab-eating Racoon (P. cancrivorus).
Moist Pacific Coast Mangroves Habitat
This taxon occurs in the Moist Pacific Coast mangroves, an ecoregion along the Pacific coast of Costa Rica with a considerable number of embayments that provide shelter from wind and waves, thus favouring mangrove establishment. Tidal fluctuations also directly influence the mangrove ecosystem health in this zone. The Moist Pacific Coast mangroves ecoregion has a mean tidal amplitude of three and one half metres,
Many of the streams and rivers, which help create this mangrove ecoregion, flow down from the Talamanca Mountain Range. Because of the resulting high mountain sediment loading, coral reefs are sparse along the Pacific coastal zone of Central America, and thus reef zones are chiefly found offshore near islands. In this region, coral reefs are associated with the mangroves at the Isla del Caño Biological Reserve, seventeen kilometres from the mainland coast near the Térraba-Sierpe Mangrove Reserve. The Térraba-Sierpe, found at the mouths of the Térraba and Sierpe Rivers, is considered a wetland of international importance.
Because of high moisture availability, the salinity gradient is more moderate than in the more northern ecoregion such as the Southern dry Pacific Coast ecoregion. Resulting mangrove vegetation is mixed with that of marshland species such as Dragonsblood Tree (Pterocarpus officinalis), Campnosperma panamensis, Guinea Bactris (Bactris guineensis), and is adjacent to Yolillo Palm (Raphia taedigera) swamp forest, which provides shelter for White-tailed Deer (Odocoileus virginianus) and Mantled Howler Monkeys (Alouatta palliata). Mangrove tree and shrub taxa include Red Mangrove (Rhizophora mangle), Mangle Caballero (R. harrisonii) R. racemosa (up to 45 metres in canopy height), Black Mangrove (Avicennia germinans) and Mangle Salado (A. bicolor), a mangrove tree restricted to the Pacific coastline of Mesoamerica.
Two endemic birds listed by IUCN as threatened in conservation status are found in the mangroves of this ecoregion, one being the Mangrove Hummingbird (Amazilia boucardi EN), whose favourite flower is the Tea Mangrove (Pelliciera rhizophorae), the sole mangrove plant pollinated by a vertebrate. Another endemic avain species to the ecoregion is the Yellow-billed Cotinga (Carpodectes antoniae EN). Other birds clearly associated with the mangrove habitat include Roseate Spoonbill (Ajaia ajaja), Gray-necked Wood Rail (Aramides cajanea), Rufous-necked Wood Rail (A. axillaris), Mangrove Black-hawk (Buteogallus anthracinus subtilis),Striated Heron (Butorides striata), Muscovy Duck (Cairina moschata), Boat-billed Heron (Cochlearius cochlearius), American White Ibis (Eudocimus albus), Amazon Kingfisher (Chloroceryle amazona), Mangrove Cuckoo (Coccyzus minor), Yellow Warbler (Setophaga petechia), and Black-necked Stilt (Himantopus mexicanus VU) among other avian taxa.
Mammals although not as numerous as birds, include species such as the Lowland Paca (Agouti paca), Mantled Howler Monkey (Alouatta palliata), White-throated Capuchin (Cebus capucinus), Silky Anteater (Cyclopes didactylus), Central American Otter (Lontra longicaudis annectens), White-tailed Deer (Odocoileus virginianus), feeds on leaves within A. bicolor and L. racemosa forests. Two raccoons: Northern Raccoon (Procyon lotor) and Crab-eating Raccoon (P. cancrivorus) can be found, both on the ground and in the canopy consuming crabs and mollusks. The Mexican Collared Anteater (Tamandua mexicana) is also found in the Moist Pacific Coast mangroves.
There are a number of amphibians in the ecoregion, including the anuran taxa: Almirante Robber Frog (Craugastor talamancae); Chiriqui Glass Frog (Cochranella pulverata); Forrer's Grass Frog (Lithobates forreri), who is found along the Pacific versant, and is at the southern limit of its range in this ecoregion. Example salamanders found in the ecoregion are the Colombian Worm Salamander (Oedipina parvipes) and the Gamboa Worm Salamander (Oedipina complex), a lowland organism that is found in the northern end of its range in the ecoregion. Reptiles including the Common Basilisk Lizard (Basiliscus basiliscus), Boa Constrictor (Boa constrictor), American Crocodile (Crocodilus acutus), Spectacled Caiman (Caiman crocodilus), Black Spiny-tailed Iguana (Ctenosaura similis) and Common Green Iguana (Iguana iguana) thrive in this mangrove ecoregion.
Mesoamerican Gulf-Caribbean Mangroves Habitat
This taxon is found in the Mesoamerican Gulf-Caribbean mangroves ecoregion, but not necessarily exclusive to this region.The Mesoamerican Gulf-Caribbean mangroves occupy a long expanse of disjunctive coastal zone along the Caribbean Sea and Gulf of Mexico for portions of Central America and Mexico. The ecoregion has a very high biodiversity and species richness of mammals, amphibians and reptiles. As with most mangrove systmems, the Mesoamerican Gulf-Caribbean ecoregion plays an important role in shoreline erosion prevention from Atlantic hurricanes and storms; in addition these mangroves are significant in their function as a nursery for coastal fishes, turtles and other marine organisms.
This disjunctive Neotropical ecoregion is comprised of elements lying along the Gulf of Mexico coastline of Mexico south of the Tampico area, and along the Caribbean Sea exposures of Belize, Honduras, Guatemala, Nicaragua, Costa Rica and Panama.There are 507 distinct vertebrate species that have been recorded in the Mesoamerican Gulf-Caribbean mangroves ecoregion.
Chief mangrove tree species found in the central portion of the ecoregion (e.g. Belize) are White Mangrove (Laguncularia racemosa), Red Mangrove (Rhizophora mangle), and Black Mangrove (Avicennia germinans); Buttonwood (Conocarpus erectus) is a related tree associate. Red mangrove tends to occupy the more seaward niches, while Black mangrove tends to dominate the more upland niches. Other plant associates occurring in this central part of the ecoregion are Swamp Caway (Pterocarpus officinalis), Provision Tree (Pachira auatica) and Marsh Fern (Acrostichum aureum).
The Mesoamerican Gulf-Caribbean mangroves ecoregion has a number of mammalian species, including: Mexican Agouti (Dasyprocta mexicana, CR); Mexican Black Howler Monkey (Alouatta pigra, EN); Baird's Tapir (Tapirus bairdii, EN); Central American Spider Monkey (Ateles geoffroyi, EN); Giant Anteater (Myrmecophaga tridactyla); Deppe's Squirrel (Sciurus deppei), who ranges from Tamaulipas, Mexico to the Atlantic versant of Costa Rica; Jaguar (Panthera onca, NT), which requires a large home range and hence would typically move between the mangroves and more upland moist forests; Margay (Leopardus wiedii, NT); Mantled Howler Monkey (Alouatta palliata); Mexican Big-eared Bat (Plecotus mexicanus, NT), a species found in the mangroves, but who mostly roosts in higher elevation caves; Central American Cacomistle (Bassariscus sumichrasti).
A number of reptiles have been recorded within the ecoregion including the Green Turtle (Chelonia mydas, EN); Hawksbill Sea Turtle (Eretmochelys imbricata, CR); Central American River Turtle (Dermatemys mawii, CR), distributed along the Atlantic drainages of southern Mexico to Guatemala; Morelets Crocodile (Crocodylus moreletii, LR/CD), a crocodile found along the mangroves of Yucatan, Belize and the Atlantic versant of Guatemala.
Some of the other reptiles found in this ecoregion are the Adorned Graceful Brown Snake (Rhadinaea decorata); Allen's Coral Snake (Micrurus alleni); Eyelash Palm Pitviper (Bothriechis schlegelii); False Fer-de-lance (Xenodon rabdocephalus); Blood Snake (Stenorrhina freminvillei); Bridled Anole (Anolis frenatus); Chocolate Anole (Anolis chocorum), found in Panamanian and Colombian lowland and mangrove subcoastal forests; Furrowed Wood Turtle (Rhinoclemmys areolata. NT); Brown Wood Turtle (LR/NT); Belize Leaf-toed Gecko (Phyllodactylus insularis), which occurs only in this ecoregion along with the Peten-Veracruz moist forests.
Salamanders found in this ecoregion are: Cukra Climbing Salamander (Bolitoglossa striatula); Rufescent Salamander (Bolitoglossa rufescens); Alta Verapaz Salamander (Bolitoglossa dofleini, NT), the largest tropical lungless salamander, whose coastal range spans Honduras, Guatemala and the Cayo District of Belize; Colombian Worm Salamander (Oedipina parvipes), which occurs from central Panama to Colombia; La Loma Salamander (Bolitoglossa colonnea), a limited range taxon occurring only in portions of Costa Rica and Panama;.Central American Worm Salamander (Oedipina elongata), who inhabits very moist habitats; Cienega Colorado Worm Salamander (Oedipina uniformis, NT), a limited range taxon found only in parts of Costa Rica and Panama, including higher elevation forests than the mangroves; Limon Worm Salamander (Oedipina alfaroi, VU), a restricted range caecilian found only on the Atlantic versant of Costa Rica and extreme northwest Panama. Caecilians found in the ecoregion are represented by: La Loma Caecilian (Dermophis parviceps), an organism found in the Atlantic versant of Panama and Costa Rica up to elevation 1200 metres
Habitat and Ecology
Where it occurs, Avicennia often achieves the highest importance values and basal area (Murray et al. 2003), becoming the dominant species in the stand. Avicennia has the broadest temperature tolerance of all neotropical mangroves; however, freezing events have damaged extensive stands (Everitt et al. 1996); some recovery is possible. Avicennia responds negatively to drought (Sobrado 1999). Growth and survival of Avicennia germinans is also reduced when it competes with Spartina alterniflora (the dominant grass at the mangrove-salt marsh interface at the northern edge of the mangrove's range; Patterson et al. 1993).
Avicennia germinans provides critical habitat for several organisms, including crabs (Uca rapax, Sesarma curacoaoense, Aratus pisonii; Warner 1969). 104 species of birds are associated with Avicennia stands in Panama, with significant divergence among stands (Lefebvre and Poulin 1997); nesting habitat for Florida Prairie Warblers and Cuban Yellow Warblers (Prather and Cruz 1995).
Avicennia is important for pollinators; regarded as a source of honey for local Apis mellifera populations (Little and Wadsworth 1964).
Depth range (m): 1 - 1
Note: this information has not been validated. Check this *note*. Your feedback is most welcome.
Depth range (m): 1 - 1
Note: this information has not been validated. Check this *note*. Your feedback is most welcome.
Black mangrove establishes in nature from seed that floats and can travel some distance on the tides. Seed will germinate quickly to anchor young seedlings in good habitat.
In the nursery, seed collected in the wild will not survive more than three to four weeks. Seed should be soaked in water, the pericarp removed and the seed planted in any commercial potting soil Germination normally occurs within a couple of weeks and seedlings take root.
Recalcitrant seed on left, pericarp removed on right
Garret Thomassie, USDA NRCS Golden Meadow PMC
Our experience indicates that a normal variety of commercially available pots will suffice for germination and early growth. Plants can be maintained in fresh water tanks that hold moisture at the bottom of the pots.
The seedlings of Black Mangrove are often subject to heavy predation by various species of mangrove crabs (McKee 1995; Lindquist et al. 2009 and references therein).
Gilbert and Sousa (2002) studied the host-associations of wood-decaying basidiomycete polypore fungi on three mangrove species (Rhizophora mangle, Avicennia germinans, and Laguncularia racemosa) in a Panamanian mangrove forest. They note that the pattern typically observed for these fungi in diverse tropical forests is that there are a large number of rare species, with the smaller number of common species necessarily being nonspecialists due to the challenge of host rarity. In contrast, the authors found that in the tropical mangrove forest they studied, the polypore assemblage was strongly dominated by a few host-specialized species. Three fungal species, each with a strong preference for a different mangrove host species, comprised 88 percent of all fungi collected (the authors note, however, that these fungi are all reported from other hosts outside of mangrove forests as well). At least for polypore fungi within tropical mangrove forests, where host diversity is low and the abundance of individual host species is high, the restriction against host specialization typically imposed by host rarity in tropical forests may be relaxed, resulting in a polypore community dominated by a few common host-specialist species. (Gilbert and Sousa 2002)
Ecologically, tropical mangrove swamp forests share many similarities with salt marshes to the north (although mangroves are woody and salt marshes are generally dominated by grasses and other herbaceous vegetation). Both mangrove swamps and salt marshes occur at the interface of land and sea, protect the coast from storm damage (especially hurricanes), and serve as important nurseries for fish and invertebrates. Mangrove leaves are an important source of energy for marine food webs: fallen leaves are colonized by bacteria, fungi, and protozoans, which are in turn fed upon by zooplankton, which in turn are consumed by juvenile fish and larval invertebrates. (Kricher 1988)
In southern Florida and the Caribbean, Black Mangrove forms dense thickets just inshore of Red Mangrove (Rhizophora mangle) (Brockman 1968). In one of the best studied mangrove regions, the Caribbean, Rhizophora mangle typically grows in a pure stand at the seaward forest edge. About 10 to 20 m from the water's edge, Laguncularia racemosa (White Mangrove) joins the canopy, forming a nearly even mixture with Rhizophora in the low intertidal. Avicennia germinans enters the canopy in the mid-intertidal, creating a mixed canopy of the three species, and it then gradually monopolizes most upper intertidal stands. Laguncularia often reappears in the canopy near the upland edge, growing as scattered individuals or small monospecific stands along the mangrove– forest ecotone. Although at one time this spatial distribution of the different mangrove species was presumed to be attributable to spatial gradients in factors such as salinity, a variety of experimental and other data have indicated that differences among species in their tolerance of different environmental conditions is insufficient to explain the observed zonation. (Sousa et al. 2007 and references therein)
Life History and Behavior
Black Mangrove seeds often germinate and split open the fruit while still on the parent tree (Elias 1980).
Evolution and Systematics
Genetic studies of Black Mangrove have revealed closer similarities between populations of Atlantic South America and those of the east Atlantic (West Africa) than between Atlantic South America and Atlantic North America (Dodd et al. 2000). Levels of genetic diversity vary considerably among populations, but are generally higher in populations from the east Atlantic. Regional differentiation between the Pacific coast and Atlantic populations is greater than between east and west Atlantic populations, suggesting that the Central American Isthmus has had an important influence on population genetic structure in this species. The lower level of divergence of east Atlantic from west Atlantic populations and results from detailed genetic analyses are consistent with dispersal of propagules across the Atlantic Ocean during the Quaternary (Dodd et al. 2002; Nettel and Dodd 2007).
Physiology and Cell Biology
Gilbert et al. (2002) studied the possible role of salt excretion by mangroves as a defense against pathogenic fungi in a mangrove forest in Panama. Although presumably evolved for other reasons, salt excretion by leaves of some mangrove species may serve as an important defense against fungal attack, reducing the vulnerability of typically high-density, monospecific forest stands to severe disease pressure. In their study, Gilbert et al. found that Black Mangrove (Avicennia germinans) suffered much less fungal leaf damage from than did White Mangrove (Laguncularia racemosa) or Red Mangrove (Rhizophora mangle). Black Mangrove leaves also supported the least fungal growth on the leaf surface, the least endophytic colonization, and the lowest fungal diversity, followed by White Mangrove and Red Mangrove.
Host specificity of leaf-colonizing fungi was greater than expected at random. The fungal assemblage found on Black Mangrove appears to be a subset of the fungi that can grow on the leaves of Red and White Mangrove. The authors suggested that the different salt tolerance mechanisms in the three mangrove species may differentially regulate fungal colonization. The mangroves differ in their salt tolerance mechanisms such that Black Mangrove (which excretes salt through leaf glands) has the highest salinity of residual rain water on leaves, White Mangrove (which accumulates salt in the leaves) has the greatest bulk salt concentration, and Red Mangrove (which excludes salt at the roots) has little salt associated with leaves. The high salt concentrations associated with leaves of Black and White Mangrove, but not the low salinity of Red Mangrove, were sufficient to inhibit the germination of many fungi associated with mangrove forests. The authors suggest that efficient defenses against pathogens may be especially important in natural communities, such as mangrove forests, where host diversity is low and the density of individual hosts is high – ideal conditions for diseases to have strong impacts on plant populations.
Mangrove forests are unusual among tropical forests for their low tree species diversity and associated high population density of individual species. Mangrove species are unusual in their ability to grow in flooded, saline soils and for the array of mechanisms they have evolved to tolerate high salt concentrations. The work by Gilbert et al. suggests that some mangrove species may also be unusual in their escape from strong disease pressures, even when growing at high densities, through the inhibitory effects of high foliar (leaf) salt concentration on fungal infection. (Gilbert et al. 2002)
Molecular Biology and Genetics
Wood contains the naphthoquinone lepachol.
Barcode data: Avicennia germinans
Statistics of barcoding coverage: Avicennia germinans
Public Records: 3
Specimens with Barcodes: 15
Species With Barcodes: 1
IUCN Red List Assessment
Red List Category
Red List Criteria
National NatureServe Conservation Status
Rounded National Status Rank: N3 - Vulnerable
NatureServe Conservation Status
Rounded Global Status Rank: G5 - Secure
Reasons: Found in Florida, Texas, Bahamas, Antilles, Galapagos, Mexico, Panama, Peru, other parts of Central America and other parts of South America. Occurs in Panamanian provinces of Bocas del Toro, Canal Area, Cocle, Colon, Los Santos, Panama and San Blas (D'arcy 1987). Regarded as a timber species (Alvarez 1991).
This species is native to the Gulf of Mexico and has not been identified as invasive or detrimental to the environment. Black mangrove is a native and valuable component of the marsh ecosystem.
Please consult the PLANTS website and your State Department of Natural Resources for this plant’s current status (e.g. threatened or endangered species, state noxious status, and wetland indicator values)
Population information for this species in a number of areas:
Mouth of Lostman's River in Everglades National Park, Florida, U.S. 209 individuals counted over 6 transects totaling 0.26 ha (McCoy et al. 1996). Cockroach Bay (part of Tampa Bay, Florida, U.S.) contains 537 hectares of mangroves and 120 trees per ha (Dawes et al. 1999) of this species were recorded. In Laguna de Celestun, Yucatan, Mexico, combined data for A. germinans, R. mangle and L. racemosa basal area ranges from 21 square meters/ha to 36 square meters/ha (Herrera-Silveira and Ramirez-Ramirez 1998). In Bonaire, Netherlands Antilles: 0.50 tree/square meter (De Meyer, 1998). Parque Nacional Morrocoy, Venezuela: 68% R. mangle, 29% L. racemosa, 8% A. germinans, 1% unidentified total tree density 348 trees/0.1 ha (Bone et al. 1998).
In Cartagena and Barbacoas Bays (Caldern-Senz 1984) and Port Royal mangal, this species grows in a mixed zone of R. mangle, A. germinans and L. racemosa that is bordered by a dense monospecific stand of R. mangle and a monospecific stand of C. erectus. (Alleng 1998). In Baha Las Minas on the Caribbean coast of Panama, there are 1,200 ha of mangroves, which is about 0.3% of the total mangroves in Panama (Duke et al. 1997). This species can dominate sites further inland in Belize where the soil salinity increased through evaporation (Murray et al. 2003).
All mangrove ecosystems occur within mean sea level and high tidal elevations, and have distinct species zonations that are controlled by the elevation of the substrate relative to mean sea level. This is because of associated variation in frequency of elevation, salinity and wave action (Duke et al. 1998). With rise in sea-level, the habitat requirements of each species will be disrupted, and species zones will suffer mortality at their present locations and re-establish at higher elevations in areas that were previously landward zones (Ellison 2005). If sea-level rise is a continued trend over this century, then there will be continued mortality and re-establishment of species zones. However, species that are easily dispersed and fast growing/fast producing will cope better than those which are slower growing and slower to reproduce.
In addition, mangrove area is declining globally due to a number of localized threats. The main threat is habitat destruction and removal of mangrove areas. Reasons for removal include cleared for shrimp farms, agriculture, fish ponds, rice production and salt pans, and for the development of urban and industrial areas, road construction, coconut plantations, ports, airports, and tourist resorts. Other threats include pollution from sewage effluents, solid wastes, siltation, oil, and agricultural and urban runoff. Climate change is also thought to be a threat, particularly at the edges of a species range. Natural threats include cyclones, hurricane and tsunamis.
Comments: Regarded as a timber species (Alvarez 1991).
Pests and potential problems
There are no known pests that could threaten black mangrove stands in the wild.
For Avicenna germinans, mangrove tree planting and silviculture can be used to restore previously stripped areas or to help timber production and to create and protect reserves (Saenger 2002). Restoration of Avicennia is being pursued in Louisiana (Willis et al. 2005), Florida (Milano 1999, McKee and Faulkner 2000, Milbrandt and Tinsley 2006), Mexico (Toledo et al. 2001), Costa Rica (Lewis and Marshall 1998) and Colombia (Elster 2000). See the general review by Lewis (2005) for further information. Effectiveness of habitat restoration and success of replantings with A. germinans needs to be assessed; it may be the most promising species for afforesting hypersaline areas.Most seedlings die during natural recruitment events and restoration is challenging.
Demographic modeling could also be useful to establish a minimum viable population size for A. germinans. Evidence from Florida suggests that invasive species negatively impacts A. germinans, more research is recomended. The studies of the uses and cost/benefit analysis are needed for more areas along Atlantic and Caribbean shores and impacts of harvesting on populations. Expand GIS mapping and remote sensing projects and utilize new Landsat and IKONOS technology to do species-based, landscape-level monitoring of deforestation (Kovacs et al. 2005).
Cultivars, improved and selected materials (and area of origin)
The USDA NRCS Plant Materials Centers have released one variety: Pelican Germplasm black mangrove is a pre-varietal release from the Golden Meadow Plant Materials Center, Galliano, Louisiana, selected to provide a plant for soil conservation in brackish and salt water marshes.
Contact your local Natural Resources Conservation Service office for more information. Look in the phone book under “United States Government”. The Natural Resources Conservation Service will be listed under the subheading “Department of Agriculture.”
Experience at the NRCS-Golden Meadow Plant Materials Center has shown that seed collected in the Fall (October to early December in South Louisiana) can be maintained for about a month, but should be planted as soon as possible after soaking removing the pericarp. There is work presently being conducted on maintaining seed for delayed germination, but at present, seed should have the pericarp removed and planted as soon as possible. Seed may be held longer with aeration (Personal communication Mat Benoit).
Two year old seedlings or older (18 inches tall) seem to be best for successful out planting. Various sizes of tubes and pots have been used with success. The greater the root mass (not pot bound) the greater the chance of successful out planting.
Planting where the tidal flow will cover and uncover the root collar is best. Soil types can vary from muck soils to areas that have some sand.
Interior marsh planting
Garret Thomassie, USDA NRCS Golden Meadow PMC
New plantings in areas of high wave energy may have to be protected by baffles or anchoring the seedlings in place until the root system is capable of supporting the plant.
Black mangrove has persisted in the intertidal marsh and is a valuable component of the ecosystem. Loss of black mangrove is a concern as it is a woody species that persists and assists in habitat development and in breaking wave energy and adds nesting habitat for birds including the pelican.
Care must be taken to planting as black mangrove is very susceptible to freezing. More work needs to be done in collecting ecotypes that might be more frost resistant, or attention to habitat differences.
There are no data on managing native black mangrove stands. In the Gulf of Mexico the range of black mangrove is “managed” by the winter weather.
Relevance to Humans and Ecosystems
Root: Aphrodisiac. Stem and Leaf: The French Guiana Palikur mix stem and leaf with a smaller amount of Rhabdadenia biflora and Nicotiana tabacum in a soothing remedy for stingray wounds.
Uses: Building materials/timber
Comments: The trunks are used for ship masts (Brucher 1989).
The fragrant white flowers of Black Mangrove are rich in nectar and honeybees make excellent honey from them (Elias 1980; Petrides 1988).
Black mangrove is valuable in soil conservation in brackish and salt water marshes. It serves as nursery habitat for crustaceans and fish, and filters sediment for building new marsh. Black mangrove also mixes well with other native plants to reduce wave energy
The black mangrove (Avicennia germinans), is a species of flowering plant in the acanthus family, Acanthaceae. It grows in tropical and subtropical regions of the Americas, on both the Atlantic and Pacific coasts, and on the Atlantic coast of tropical Africa, where it thrives on the sandy and muddy shores that seawater reaches. It is common throughout coastal areas of Texas and Florida, and ranges as far north as southern Louisiana and coastal Georgia in the United States.
Unlike other mangrove species, it does not grow on prop roots, but possesses pneumatophores that allow its roots to breathe even when submerged. It is a hardy species and expels absorbed salt mainly from its leathery leaves.
The name "black mangrove" refers to the color of the trunk and heartwood. The leaves often appear whitish from the salt excreted at night and on cloudy days. It is often found in its native range with the red mangrove (Rhizophora mangle) and the white mangrove (Laguncularia racemosa). White mangroves grow inland from black mangroves which themselves grow inland from red mangroves. The three species work together to stabilize the shoreline, provide buffers from storm surges, trap debris and detritus brought in by tides, and provide feeding, breeding, and nursery grounds for a great variety of fish, shellfish, birds, and other wildlife.
The black mangrove grows just above the high tide in coastal lagoons and brackish water estuaries. It is less tolerant of highly saline conditions than certain other species that occur in mangrove ecosystems. It can reach 10–15 m (33–49 ft) in height, although it is a small shrub in cooler regions of its range. The seeds germinate in midsummer, but may be seen all year on the trees. The seeds can remain viable for over a year once released.
The heartwood is dark-brown to black, while the sapwood is yellow-brown. It has the unusual property of having less dense heartwood than sapwood. The sapwood sinks in water while the heartwood floats. The wood is strong, heavy, and hard, but is difficult to work due to its interlocked grain and is somewhat difficult to finish due to its oily texture. Uses include posts, pilings, charcoal, and fuel. Despite growing in a marine environment, the dry wood is subject to attack by marine borers and termites. Like many species, it contains tannin in the bark and has been used to tan leather products.
- "Avicennia germinans (L.) L.". Germplasm Resources Information Network. United States Department of Agriculture. 1999-07-12. Retrieved 2010-05-20.
- "Avicennia germinans_EOL".
- World Wildlife Fund. 2010. Petenes mangroves. eds. Mark McGinley, C.Michael Hogan & C. Cleveland. Encyclopedia of Earth. National Council for Science and the Environment. Washington DC
- Haehle, Robert (1999). Native Florida Plants. Houston: Gulf Publishing Company. ISBN 0-88415-425-4.
- McKee, Karen L., Irving A. Mendelssohn, and Mark W. Hester. "Reexamination of pore water sulfide concentrations and redox potentials near the aerial roots of Rhizophora mangle and Avicennia germinans." American Journal of Botany (1988): 1352-1359.
FG Creole: black mangrove, paletuvier blanc. FG Palikur: payuyri. Guyana: courida. Guyana Arawak: koroda. Guyana Carib: apario. Surinam: apalioe, koroda, parwa.