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Publication Type J
Authors Silva, M. D. and P. K. D. Silva
Title Status, diversity and conservation of the mangrove forests of Sri Lanka
Source Journal of South Asian Natural History
Abstract In Sri Lanka, mangrove forests are found scattered mainly along the north-western, northeastern and eastern coasts bordering lagoons and river estuaries. The area covered by the mangrove forests today is estimated as only 87 km2 (Legg and Jewell, 1995). Most of the mangrove forest areas have been subjected to human interference for a long time, and undisturbed mangrove forests are seldom found. In most areas, the mangrove forests are usually restricted to a narrow strip, sometimes only a few trees deep. The largest mangrove forest, which is in the Kala Oya estuary, is not more than 0.5 km deep and extends upstream about 2 km from the river mouth. The low level of tidal fluctuations is mainly responsible for the narrowness of the mangrove forests as only a small area comes under the tidal influence. A clear zonation is not seen in most localities because of the narrowness of the mangrove forest and the human interference. Two major kinds of mangrove forests, namely, low-saline and high-saline, could be distinguished by the floristic composition; three other specialized high saline types, scrub, overwash, and basin, are also sometimes distinguished depending on the flooding characteristics and topography. Twenty three true mangrove species of trees and shrubs have been recorded in Sri Lanka, the common species being Rhizophora mucronata, Avicennia marina, Excoecaria agallocha, Acanthus ilicifolius, Lumnitzera racemosa, Sonneratia caseolaris, Bruguiera gymnorhiza and Aegiceras corniculatum. The rare species are Ceriops decandra, Sonneratia apetala, Lumnitzera littorea, Scyphiphora hydrophyllacea and Cynometra iripa, of which the first three are endangered species in Sri Lanka. In general, the aquatic fauna, especially fish, is estuarine fauna. Cerithidea cingulata and Terebralia palustris (Gastropoda) are very common. The latter species as well as grapsid crabs, fiddler crabs and the mud-lobster (Thalassina anomala) are usually not found outside mangrove areas. Of the vertebrate fauna, avifauna is the most abundant and a variety of wading birds use mangrove-associated estuaries and lagoons for feeding and mangrove trees for roosting and nesting. Strict conservation measures are urgently required, especially in the face of the increased destruction of mangrove forests in recent years for the construction of prawn culture ponds.
ISSN 1022-0828
ISBN 1022-0828
Publication Date Jan.
Year Published 1998
Volume 3
Issue 1
Beginning Page 79-102
Unique Article Identifier BCI:BCI199800227128
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