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History /Evolution of Mangroves...........



In different parts of the world, Mangroves are called as 'mangals', 'coastal woodlands', 'tidal forests' etc. and are littoral plant formations. However, many people confuse mangroves as man made or confuse it with mangos. The Shorter Oxford Dictionary describes the word "mangrove" as obscurely connected with the Portuguese word "mangue" and the Spanish word "mangle" and the English word "grove" and it dates its origin as 1613. However, Marta Vannucci in her book "The Mangrove and Us" points out that the word is neither Portuguese nor Spanish and, after an exhaustive search, she concludes that the word "mangue" derives from the national language of Senegal. She comments that it was probably adopted by the Portuguese, and later modified by the Spanish, as a result of their exploration of the coast of West Africa.

Evolution

Mangroves are evolved around 114 million years ago. The Indo-Malaysian area is considered as the cradle of evolution of mangrove ecosystem (Krishnamurthy, 1993), because it is widely believed that the mangrove plants developed first in this area and then only spread to other regions of the tropics. This may account for the fact that there are far more mangrove species present in this region than anywhere else. Because of their unique floating propagules and seeds, certain of these early mangrove species spread westward, borne by ocean currents, to India and East Africa, and eastward to the Americas, arriving in Central and South America during the upper Cretaceous period and lower Miocene epoch, between 66 and 23 million years ago. During that time, mangroves spread throughout the Caribbean Sea across an open seaway which once existed where Panama lies today. Later, sea currents may have carried mangrove seeds to the western coast of Africa and as far south as New Zealand. This might explain why the mangroves of West Africa and the Americas contain fewer, but similar colonizing species, whereas those of Asia, India, and East Africa contain a much fuller range of mangrove species.

At present the Indo-Pacific region is known for its luxuriant mangroves. Especially the mangrove forests are most luxuriantly present in Southeast Asia. The Sunderbans of India and Bangladesh put together form the single largest block of mangroves of the world. India has a very long coastline with variable ecological features.