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Tidal Ecosystems

Long, long before humans worried about tidal systems for great fishing and storm surge buffers, tidal ecosystems did this on a daily basis. Home to 3 different types of mangrove and a plethora of other flora and fauna the club had a meeting at Weedon Island Preserve in Pinellas County. We saw in depth two of the three different types of mangroves, white and red. Mangroves are are not only vital to buffering storm surge, helping dissipate wave action prior to hitting land, but they also form nurseries for young fish. They harbor many different species of invertebrates and vertebrates alike. The common placement of these mangroves, as the uplands transitions into a tidal area, they appear in the order of white, black, red. White mangroves have yellowish green leaves and nectaries at the base of the stem. Black Mangroves have projections called pneumatophores that project from the ground upward ( think cypress knees). Lastly the red mangroves have prop roots that protrude from the trunk of the tree often above the high tide line. Where we met the area had been ditched for mosquitoes so we say white mangroves next to reds. There were many I notice and I wonder questions being discussed. One was if white mangroves flower (and they do, really small flowers) why have nectaries at the base of the leaf? Is it to lure in more pollinators? Is it resource heavy for the plant to produce nectar outside of producing it in the flowers? Do the prop roots make the red more structurally stable than the blacks to take the brunt of the wind and storm surge? If you have a tidal system near you I urge you to grad a pen, paper, drinking water, sunscreen and bug spray and head out to see all the really interesting flora and fauna that lives there. Ask questions, create a nature adventure!

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