Biodiversity in mangroves

Plants in the mangroves

The mangroves are a plant community developed along the coast with regularly tidal inundation and with high salinity of seawater and in some areas where the wind and sunlight are strong. So, the mangrove plants have to adapt to meet the extreme environment by developing some special organs such as roots, stems, leaves, flowers, and fruits, etc. Cleary, the adaptations of mangrove include the supporting and aeration root that mangrove plants can grow on the soft and anoxic muddy substrates; mangrove leaves have salt glands, are waxy and fleshy, and the stomata (breathing pores) are available in underside of the leaf; the seedlings are rapidly developed when it falls into the water because the seedlings are developed while they are attached to the parent tree, In Thailand, there are various species of mangrove plants which are different by each area. According to the study of The Office of Mangroves Conservation, Department of Marine and Coastal Resource, 78 species of the mangrove plant in Thailand have been reported as shown in Table  and Figure 


 Table  A variety of mangrove plants in Thailand


Scientific Name


Scientific Name

1 Rhizophora apiculata 35 Phoenix paludosa
2 Rhizophora mucronata 36 Ceriops decanadra
3 Finlaysonia maritima 37 Ceriops tagal
4 Pluchea indica 38 Lumnitzera racemosa
5 Dolichandrone spathacea 39 Lumnitzera littorea
6 Melastoma villosum 40 Bruguiera hainesii
7 Nypa fruticans 41 Bruguiera sexangula
8 Barringtonia asiatica 42 Bruguiera gymnorrhiza
9 Barringtonia racemosa 43 Thespesia populnea
10 Suaeda maritima 44 Thespesia populneoides
11 Premna obtusifolia 45 Rapanea porteriana
12 Amoora cucullata 46 Cynometra ramiflora
13 Allophyllus cobbe 47 Atalantia monophylla
14 Scolopia macrophylla 48 Merope angulata
15 Xylocarpus rumphii 49 Diospyros areolata
16 Xylocarpus granatum 50 Cynometra iripa
17 Xylocarpus moluccensis 51 Scaevola taccada
18 Excoecaria agallocha 52 Kandelia candel
19 Cerbera odollam 53 Ardisia elliptica
20 Cerbera manghas 54 Stenochlaena palustris
21 Pandanus odoratissimus 55 Sonneratia caseolaris
22 Derris trifoliate 56 Sonneratia alba
23 Bruguiera cylindrica 57 Sonneratia ovata
24 Bruguiera parviflora 58 Sonneratia griffithii
25 Caesalpinia crista 59 Aegiceras corniculatum
26 Ficus microcarpa 60 Calophyllum inophyllum
27 Brownlowia tersa 61 Sapium indicum
28 Cassine viburnifolia 62 Dalbergia candenatensis
29 Peltophorum pterocarpum 63 Clerodendrum inerme
30 Wedlia biflora 64 Scyphiphora hydrophyllacea
31 Aegialitis rotundifolia 65 Melaleuca cajuputi
32 Acrostichum aureum 66 Avicennia alba
33 Acrostichum speciosum 67 Avicennia officinalis
34 Hibiscus tiliaceus 68 Avicennia marina
69 Terminalia catappa 74 Intsia bijuga
70 Heritiera littoralis 75 Flagellaria indica
71 Heritiera fomes 76 Acanthus volubilis
72 Derris indica 77 Acanthus ebracteatus
73 Oncosperma tigillaria 78 Acanthus ilicifolius

Source:  Office of Mangroves Conservation, Department of Marine and Coastal Resources (B.E. 2552)


Examples of mangrove plants in Thailand

Sources: Office of Mangroves Conservation, Department of Marine and Coastal Resources (B.E. 2552)


Animals in mangroves

Not only shrimps, shells, crabs, fish, birds, mammals, reptiles, and insects are found within mangroves, but also all kinds of small species like protozoan, worms, flat worms, and polycheates etc. Those animals can be classified by their living patterns as free living animals, sessile animals, filter feeders, and infauna.

Most of the fish found in the mangroves are abundant and important in terms of the economy including Milkfish and Silver Perch. Type and abundance of fish are varied by seasons, currents, salinity and temperature of seawater, types and numbers of predators. Fish in the mangroves can be categorized as four groups: resident fish, temporary fish, and seasonal fish. 

There are approximately 15 types of shrimp found in mangroves; the ones which are economically important include tiger prawn and banana shrimp. Besides, some species spawn their eggs at the mangrove with brackish water including giant freshwater prawn and other freshwater prawns.

Mollusks found in the mangroves include bivalves like oyster, cockle and other bivalves, that may live in the substrate or attach to the stems, root, branch, and leaves of mangrove plants, while shipworms lives within the dead truck or submerged woods. In addition, the gastropods genus Cerithidea are also found in mangrove.

About thirty kinds of crab found in the mangroves, the famous ones are a meder's mangrove crab and fiddler crab, both of which are colorful, whereas, giant mud crabs are usually caught as a human food.

Birds found around the mangroves consist of resident birds and migratory birds. The resident birds inhabit and build their nests in the mangrove area include little egrets, little cormorants, red-backed sea eagles, whereas, migratory birds seasonally fly from other areas through the same route along the continents to the mangroves in order to halt and rest because the mangroves provide their food sources as well as the shelters from storms and their predators. The migratory birds include giant birds, spoon-billed sandpipers, seagulls, etc.

Except the aquatic animals, other animals can be found in mangroves including bats, monkeys, rats, wild cats, fishing cats, wild pigs, and barking deer. These animals come to the mangroves when they want to find some food. 


Examples of organisms in the mangrove of Thailand

Mangrove fungi

Scientists expected that fungi had developed from the algae which are able to photosynthesize. Each group of fungi had evolved from the different group of algae. Currently, it is found that terrestrial fungi are more developed than aquatic fungi. With the passing of time, some fungi had adapted, developed, and moved back to grow in marine environment recognized as marine fungi. Fungi found in mangroves are called Manglicolous fungi consisting of higher fungi in the sub-division Basidiomycotina for 20%, while, 80 % of them are lower fungi in the subdivision Ascomycotina and Dueteromycotina. In mangroves, marine fungi are found on various materials such as branches, leaves, submerged roots, including sediment and in brackish water. They are the important organisms in decomposition process of marine and coastal environments.

There are about 200 species of higher fungi found in mangroves all over the world and more species are going to be explored the future. Most fungi are in the Sub-division Basidiomycotina that can produce filaments. In addition, true marine fungi can also be found with colorful spores, filaments, and the mucus are produced in order to help them attach with natural substrates and enhance successfulness of their reproduction. Some fungi are grown only with on the specific plants such as Halocyphina villosa which is usually found on the stems of Avicennia alba but rarely found on the stems of Bruguiera cylindrical and Rhizophora apiculata, whereas Coronopapilla mangrovei generally found on genus Xylocarpus. Some species of fungi, for examples the genus Phellinus, are only pathogenic to Xylocarpus granatum that cause stem rot.

However, in Thailand, the research regarding marine fungi, halofungi, and other fungi in the mangroves in this region are rare. Most researches on marine fungi have been conducted in India covering the symbiosis relationship between fungi and mangrove plants. Besides, some resources have also been studied in Hong Kong, Singapore, and Malaysia. In the last three or four years, it was reported by National Center for Genetic Engineering and Biotechnology (BIOTEC) that more than 160 species of marine fungi  were found in Thailand and approximately 1,400 strains of them have already been collected at BIOTEC. Whiles, the study of other mangrove fungi, especially, on the genus Phellinus are still rare. According to Aniwat and Theerawat (B.E. 2533), 59 species of marine fungi were found and 50 species of them were in Sub-division Ascomycotina. They also suggested for future research that the number of sampling station should be increased.