To Save Coral Reefs, First Save the Mangroves
Coastal forests are a refuge for corals at risk of bleaching in a warming climate.
With coral reefs in decline and NOAA calling for a larger protected area for reefs in the Gulf of Mexico, U.S. Geological Survey scientists are pointing out another strategy to save reefs: First save the mangroves.
Mangrove trees' thickets of stilt-like roots protect coastal land from erosion and help mitigate the damage of tsunamis and hurricanes.They may also serve as a haven for corals, according to a recent report in Biogeosciences. (Read more about how mangroves support animal life.)
Warming waters have not been kind to coral reefs. Heat causes corals to release the photosynthetic algae that live within and help feed the reefbuilding creatures—a phenomenon called bleaching, which is often fatal. In the Caribbean, where bleaching is widespread,