Inland mangroves reveal a tumultuous climatic past — and hint at our future

Inland mangroves reveal a tumultuous climatic past — and hint at our future

Exequiel Ezcurra was dubious when he first heard about the possibility of mangroves on the San Pedro Mártir River in southern Mexico from Carlos Burelo-Ramos, a botanist at Mexico’s University of Tabasco. The red mangrove tree (Rhizophora mangle) does inhabit freshwater environs — Cuba’s Bay of Pigs and the Florida Everglades are two notable examples. But mangroves sitting at least 170 kilometers (106 miles) inland? That seemed unlikely. “You probably got your botanical identification wrong because it doesn’t seem plausible that mangroves are growing in a river with freshwater at such a distance from the coast,” Ezcurra, a professor of ecology at the University of California, Riverside, told Burelo-Ramos. But a confident Burelo-Ramos pushed back, respectfully telling Ezcurra, “I’m a good taxonomist. I know my plants, and this is red mangrove.” A tall red mangrove provides habitat to various epiphytic cacti and orchid species, creating an ecosystem unique in the world. Image by Octavio Aburto. “That sort of stirred my curiosity,” Ezcurra told Mongabay. Sure enough, on a trip to visit the San Pedro Mártir with his daughters, he found red mangrove, which, unlike other mangrove species that grow in the Gulf of Mexico, can take up residence in habitats free of salt, at least the sodium chloride variety pervasive in the world’s oceans. The trees exist atop calcium-rich limestone known as karst, which previous research has shown supports salt-loving mangrove trees. Red mangrove wasn’t the only shoreline-dwelling species he found in the middle of the state of Tabasco at…This article was originally published on Mongabay

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