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Ecology of mangroves in the Jewfish Chain, Exuma, Bahamas

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Abstract

The structure and function of mangrove communities in the Jewfish Chain, Exumas, Bahamas, were investigated for 3-1/2 years. Mangrove vegetation in the Jewfish Chain is similar to that in all the Caribbean-Florida area; Rhizophora mangle L. dominates and is interspersed with Avicennia germinans (L.) Lamk. and Laguncularia racemosa (L.) Gaertn. There is no apparent zonation of these three species. The mangrove communities in the Jewfish Chain occur only where they are protected from prevailing winds, storms, and tides, although all are periodically devastated by hurricanes. We found little or no evidence of coast building within these protected locations. The importance of the mangroves appears to be in providing protection and food for other flora and fauna within this unique ecosystem. Twenty-four species of algae were found in the mangroves, 9 of which had not previously been reported from the Bahamas. Distribution of these algae appears to be correlated to incident solar radiation, desiccation, and tide level. A total of 56 species of fish were found in the mangroves, 2 of which were not previously known from the Bahamas. Many fish taken were juveniles, suggesting that mangroves are a nursery ground for numerous species. Nine species of molluscs were found. Each species had a distinct distribution pattern relative to distance from the seaward edge of the mangroves, as well as a distinct vertical distribution pattern. Seventeen species of decapod crustaceans were recorded. Though several species of birds were noted in the mangroves, three species were most abundant: the white-crowned pigeon (Columba leucocephala) uses the mangrove for nesting but feeds in nearby shrub-thorn communities; the gray kingbird (Tyrannus dominicensis) and green heron (Butorides virescens) nest and feed in the mangroves. Our data do not completely describe a stereotyped mangrove community in the Bahamas, but they do give an indication of community structure and suggest several aspects of function.

Additional publication details

Publication type Conference Paper
Publication Subtype Conference Paper
Title Ecology of mangroves in the Jewfish Chain, Exuma, Bahamas
Year Published 1976
Language English
Publisher University of Florida
Contributing office(s) Great Lakes Science Center
Description 39 p.
Larger Work Type Conference Paper
Larger Work Subtype Conference Paper
Larger Work Title Proceedings of the International Symposium on biology and management of mangroves
First page 305
Last page 343
Conference Title International Symposium on biology and management of mangroves
Online Only (Y/N) N
Additional Online Files (Y/N) N