Lack of genetic diversity means mangroves could struggle with climate change

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Image: Fisheries Queensland
Mangroves could struggle with climate change because their genetic diversity is so low (image: Fisheries Queensland).

MANGROVES support coastal ecosystems around the world. In the tropics and subtropics, they rim coastlines and estuaries in thick green bands, providing shelter for everything from monkeys to Bengal tigers...not to mentaion myriad fish species. Considering their wide range and unique adaptations to saltwater environments, mangroves seem like an evolutionary success story.

According to an article on the Hakai Magazine website, however, the reality is that mangroves have surprisingly low genetic diversity, which will be a big problem as they attempt to adapt to changing conditions.

Evolutionary biologists in Guangzhou, China, have surveyed the genetic material of six of the world’s roughly 100 mangrove species, examining 26 populations around the Gulf of Thailand and China’s Hainan Island. The team found that within each species, mangroves are so low in genetic diversity that individual trees are essentially indistinguishable from one another. This means they will have less chance of adapting to a changing world than more diverse species...and that could spell problems for the  fish and other species that call mangroves home.

You can read the full story HERE.

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