Mangroves – Transformers

Mangroves – Transformers

Music; Ambience: Marsh

They may look like salt marshes, grasslands, or tangled masses of trees. Mangroves are the ecosystems which line coastal areas in temperate climates around the world. Among the important roles that mangroves play is to act as a kind of ‘biotransformer’ of the organic materials that pass between the land and sea. I’m Jim Metzner, and this is the Pulse of the Planet. Ivan Valiela is a professor of biology at Boston University’s Marine Program at the Marine Biological Laboratory in Woods Hole, Massachusetts.

Valiel: “They’re transformers. They transform what comes in from land – they change it in ways that make it more possible and more accessible for marine organisms to make use of them.”

Around the world, mangroves are being destroyed to make room for shrimp farms, housing, and other forms of urban expansion. But the loss of a mangrove can have serious environmental consequences.

Valiel: “What happens is that first of all, more of the land-derived materials – whether it’s sediment, or whether it’s heavy metals, or whether it’s nitrogen and phosphorus – will make it to the sea. And that means that probably water quality will be lower. In fact, in many places in the Australian Great Barrier reef, people are beginning to be concerned about the survival of certain coral species because of the changes going on, from not only urban sprawl, but also the destruction of mangroves forests on the shore. So there’s connections there that will certainly have consequences if we have reduced the subsidies that mangrove forests provide us.”

We’ll hear more on mangroves in future programs. Please visit us on the web at pulseplanet.com. Pulse of the Planet is made possible by the National Science Foundation. I’m Jim Metzner.

Mangroves - Transformers

Mangroves are a lot more important than you might think.
Air Date:11/08/2013
Scientist:
Transcript:

Mangroves - Transformers

Music; Ambience: Marsh

They may look like salt marshes, grasslands, or tangled masses of trees. Mangroves are the ecosystems which line coastal areas in temperate climates around the world. Among the important roles that mangroves play is to act as a kind of 'biotransformer' of the organic materials that pass between the land and sea. I'm Jim Metzner, and this is the Pulse of the Planet. Ivan Valiela is a professor of biology at Boston University's Marine Program at the Marine Biological Laboratory in Woods Hole, Massachusetts.

Valiel: "They're transformers. They transform what comes in from land - they change it in ways that make it more possible and more accessible for marine organisms to make use of them."

Around the world, mangroves are being destroyed to make room for shrimp farms, housing, and other forms of urban expansion. But the loss of a mangrove can have serious environmental consequences.

Valiel: "What happens is that first of all, more of the land-derived materials - whether it's sediment, or whether it's heavy metals, or whether it's nitrogen and phosphorus - will make it to the sea. And that means that probably water quality will be lower. In fact, in many places in the Australian Great Barrier reef, people are beginning to be concerned about the survival of certain coral species because of the changes going on, from not only urban sprawl, but also the destruction of mangroves forests on the shore. So there's connections there that will certainly have consequences if we have reduced the subsidies that mangrove forests provide us."

We'll hear more on mangroves in future programs. Please visit us on the web at pulseplanet.com. Pulse of the Planet is made possible by the National Science Foundation. I'm Jim Metzner.