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  Challenging Habitats: Southern Saltmarshes and Mangroves    

Challenging Habitats: Southern Saltmarshes and Mangroves
The information presented here has been written by staff at the
Marine Discovery Centre, Queenscliff, Victoria.

1. Introduction

Both mangrove and saltmarsh (also called samphire in South Australia) habitats have been viewed as worthless in the past as they are generally areas that are muddy, smelly because of the lack of air in the mud, and full of mosquitoes. Many areas that formerly were covered in saltmarsh or mangroves have been cleared to create housing estates, marinas, resorts, and farm land. They are challenging habitats for conservation as people find them hard to enjoy.

Mangroves on the Barwon River, Victoria.

In higher coastal areas periodically flooded by seawater communities of salt tolerant plants called saltmarshes can develop. Remaining saltmarshes are vitally important habitat for rare animals and plants including the highly endangered Orange Bellied Parrot.

While not common in southern Australia there are mangroves at various locations in Victoria and South Australia. The mangrove forsts of southern Australia consist of one species only - the White Mangrove Avicennia marina. These small trees are capable of growing between the tides in thick mud. Mangroves are important as nursery habitat for many fish and crustacean species as well as trapping large amounts of silt and building up mudflats.

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Ecology Closeup: Mangrove Food Cycle
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