This article is a guest post by Stefanie Rog, a Monash University PhD candidate who is currently researching mangrove conservation and the importance of this habitat for terrestrial vertebrates.
Mangroves are generally named in one breath with mozzies, fish and shrimp, but they are much more than that. They provide coastal protection, food, and income for millions of people around the world. Nevertheless, they are in rapid decline due to coastal development and shrimp farming: more than one third of their total expanse has been lost in the last two decades.
There are still significant gaps in our knowledge of these ecosystems, particularly their terrestrial elements. Recent studies have revealed mangroves are globally important for a remarkable diversity of terrestrial mammals, reptiles and amphibians that use them as foraging grounds, shelter, dispersal and as a refuge when their primary habitat is destroyed. Despite the significant diversity of terrestrial species using mangrove forests - many of which are of conservation concern - very few field studies have explored the interactions between terrestrial vertebrates and mangrove forests. This is possibly because mangroves are so challenging to survey in relation to the daily tide, deep mud and low visibility.
But that didn’t stop this research! Using a wide range of trapping techniques (well-known and newly developed; high-tech and basic) along the east coast of Australia throughout temperate, sub-tropical and tropical mangroves, they detected more than 35 species of mammals, reptiles and amphibians that call these habitats their home. More than 20 of them have not been reported in Australian mangroves before! This video shows you just how exciting mangroves are and might inspire you to visit the beautiful mangroves close to Melbourne at French Island, Phillip Island, Hastings or Wilsons Promontory.
Banner image: An Australian mangrove, ebb tide - W.C. Piguenit