Mangroves Biodiversity and Ecosystem

Along tropical coastlines, mangroves are vital for healthy ecosystems and human communities. Despite the significance of these habitats, in the last few decades they have been extensively degraded and cleared, often in the interest of economic growth. Fortunately, such attitudes are changing and there is now increasing global appreciation for the remarkable mangrove forest.

In an effort to bring awareness to the importance of Mangroves, this curriculum was developed. There are ten units within the Mangrove Curriculum.

This entire curriculum should take approximately 14 hours to complete.

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This unit introduces students to the mangrove - a rare and threatened ecosystem. It provides a brief overview of how mangroves evolved, their geographical distribution, importance to humans and coastal ecology, and global status and threats. Much of the information summarized here is expanded upon in greater detail in subsequent units. Thus, the material covered in this unit will enable students to grasp more complex topics related to the biology, ecology, assessment and management of mangroves.

This Unit should take approximately 2 hours to complete.

This unit begins with an exploration of the physical mangrove environment, describing the commonly observed forest types, community and vegetation patterns within these settings, and the processes underlying them. Next, we appraise patterns of productivity and biomass within the mangrove, since these properties influence food web dynamics both in mangroves and adjacent ecosystems. Through our discussion of productivity it becomes evident that mangrove forest dynamics are shaped by living (biotic) and non-living (abiotic) factors. Accordingly, we next turn our attention to the many properties of the mangrove environment which contribute to overall forest structure and function. From this, we turn our attention to mangrove forests as a habitat and describe the major functional roles filled by animals and plants within and how they interact within the mangrove food web. Since mangroves also support communities beyond boundaries, we lastly address their connectivity to adjacent habitats and how this connectivity gives rise to some important ecosystem functions.

This Unit should take approximately 1.5 hours to complete.

This unit introduces you to the vegetation which characterizes the mangrove environment. It provides an overview of the floral groups which occur in the mangrove, including true mangrove plants, mangrove associates and other floral components. The last section of this unit introduces you to some basic concepts in plant taxonomy and can be used as a guide to help you locate and identify true mangrove species in the wild.

This Unit should take approximately 1 hour to complete.

This unit will provide students with an overview of faunal biodiversity in the mangrove. From this unit, students will gain an appreciation of the incredible diversity of animals which occur in the mangrove and also how this diversity supports human communities.

This Unit's eBook should take approximately 1 hour to read through.

This unit explores the implications of climate change for mangrove ecosystems, the role of mangroves in mitigating climate change effects and strategies to help manage mangroves into the future.

This Unit should take approximately 2 hours to complete.

Coastal areas support a large and increasing proportion of the world’s population and assets therefore the gradual increase in frequency and power of extreme natural hazards (e.g. cyclones, storm surges, hurricanes, and tsunamis) over the past century, as well as sea level rise, are a cause of major concern in the coastal regions. This Unit explores the concept of disaster risk in coastal areas and the part that coastal ecosystems and specifically mangroves can play in reducing this risk and in protecting coasts. 

This Unit should take approximately 1.5 hours to complete.

Mangroves support the livelihoods of many people by providing food to eat, fuel to cook and heat, wood to build homes, and a place to pursue commercial activities. This unit introduces the historical connections between mangroves and people, and describes the many services provided by these ecosystems and their benefits to human communities. This unit also discusses the people most directly dependent on mangroves - indigenous peoples.

This Unit should take approximately 1 hour to complete.

Mangroves in many areas of the world have suffered from either poor management or the lack of any management regime. Deforestation for timber, charcoal, aquaculture, agriculture and development are all primary drivers for the loss or degradation of mangrove forests worldwide leading to coastal erosion, decline of fishery resources and other environmental consequences, some of which in need of urgent attention. This Unit will introduce students to the techniques that have been used to restore or increase mangrove areas and teach students the key steps and considerations necessary before and after the implementation of rehabilitation and planting activities and projects. Finally, this module explores the results of restoration and planting projects from around the world, and identifies the factors that have contributed to their success or failure.

This Unit should take approximately 1.25 hours to complete.

This unit introduces students to the methods used for valuing wetland ecosystem services with the goal of maintaining the flow of these services and the benefits they provide to people. In particular, it focuses on the benefits provided by mangroves and how economic techniques can be used to demonstrate the value of these benefits and incorporate them into decision-making frameworks.

This Unit should take approximately 1 hour to complete.

This unit introduces students to national policies and laws that affect mangrove conservation and biodiversity. Students will also understand the different multilateral environmental agreements relating to mangroves at the international level, how the agreements work, and the main limitations of each agreement. Last of all, students will learn about the importance of policy framing and coordination, particularly its role in crossing political boundaries and linking mangrove conservation and biodiversity efforts with larger agendas, as well as how to improve policy for the purposes of mangrove conservation.

This Unit should take approximately 1.5 hours to complete.