The Greater Antilles mangrove ecoregion is comprised of the islands of Cuba, Hispaniola, Puerto Rico and Jamaica. These mangroves support relatively high levels of endemic flora and fauna and are often part of complex assemblages of habitats.
Greater Antilles Mangroves
The Greater Antilles mangrove ecoregion is comprised of the islands of Cuba, Hispaniola, Puerto Rico and Jamaica. Because of their location on large islands, the Greater Antilles mangroves support relatively high levels of endemic flora and fauna, and are often part of complex assemblages of habitats that are as diverse as the conditions found in various parts of these islands.
The Greater Antilles mangroves vary in their development, from scrub vegetation found as coastal fringe, to well developed stands with heights of up to 25 m (82 ft) found at river mouths.
Mangroves are also a particularly important feature of Caribbean shores, as they form a barrier that helps to protect the coastal area from tropical storms and hurricanes that have become more intense in recent years.
They are also important as barriers against salinization of coastal soils and groundwater and support fisheries upon which most of the population is dependent
Because of their location on large islands, the mangroves of the Greater Antilles support relatively high levels of endemic flora and fauna, and are often part of complex assemblages of habitats that are as diverse as the conditions found in various parts of these islands.
Some protected areas that are important centers of both floral and faunal endemism are the Desembarco del Granma National Park, also a World Heritage Site, where mangroves are part of an assemblage of habitats that include coral reefs and sea grass beds.
Endemic flora are also found in the Black River Lower Morass in Jamaica, which contains mangroves and is important habitat for both wetland and migratory birds.
Coastal mangroves together with coral reefs and seagrass beds are often interdependent and, together, form a highly diverse and structurally complex ecosystem in which the reefs act as a barrier that shelters seagrass beds and mangroves from high wave energy and strong coastal currents typical of the Caribbean environment. These in turn provide foraging and nursery habitats for many reef species.
Mangrove species found in this ecoregion are: Red mangrove Rhizopora mangle, Black mangrove Avicennia germinans, White mangrove Laguncularia racemosa, and the Buttonwood mangrove Conocarpus erectus. R. mangle is generally found at the seaward fringe and in the margins of creeks and lagoons, and A. germinans and L. racemosa behind R. mangle, followed by C. erectus.
A myriad of nonendemic birds frequent the mangroves. Among the endemic birds associated with mangroves are the Cuban Green Woodpecker Xiphidiopicus percussus, the Jamaican tody Todus todus, and endemic subspecies of the mangrove warbler Dendroica petechia gundlachi, and the clapper rail Rallus longirostris caribaeus. Endemic mammals and reptiles include several species of hutia (Capromys spp) found in Cuba, and the anolis lizard (Anolis spp.).
Mammals which frequent these mangroves include: several species of Hutia: Capromys pilorides, C. sanfelipensis, C. garridoi, C. angelcabrerais, C. auritus and West Indian manatee Trichecus manatus .