You may have seen mangroves somewhere along the coastal area of Singapore but what are the significances of those mangroves? Just after doing some research before writing this blog that I realized mangroves have profound significances to coastal ecosystems in Singapore. For instance, along the coast of Chek Jawa, you can observe mangroves , e.g. Bakau minyak (Rhizopora apiculata) and api-api bulu (Avicennia rumphiana) growing at the intertidal zone.
Mangroves support over 150 species of fish in Singapore (Lim K.P. Kelvin et al., 1999). Estuarine catfish (Mystus gulio) is a common example.
One of the most important roles of mangroves is nursery habitats for juvenile fish. You may ask why mangroves are so attractive to fish, especially juvenile fish. The reasons for this question include 2 major factors,i.e. food abundance and protection from predators. The epiphytic algae on mangroves pneumatophores accumulate an assemblage of invertebrate species, thus providing ample food supply to fish (Low and Chou, 1994). The structure of mangrove habitats also provides protection and shelter from predators to juvenile fish.
Another important role of mangroves is that mangroves bind soft sediments, facilitating coral reef development in areas that might otherwise have too much silt for coral growth. In turn, coral reefs buffer wave impacts, helping to minimize erosion of soft sediments that mangroves need to grow (Mumby et al., 2004).
Low, J.K.Y, Chou, L.M.1994. Fish diversity of Singapore mangroves and the effect of habitat management. Research Paper, Third ASEAN-Australia symposium on living coastal resources Vol.2 (pp.465-470). Bangkok: Chulalungkorn University.
Lim, K.P. Kelvin et al. 1999. A Guide to Mangroves of Singapore. Singapore Science Centre.
Mumby, P.J. et al. 2004. Mangroves enhance the biomass of coral reef fish communities in the Carribean. Nature 427: 533-536.