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Marine ecologists reveal mangroves might be threatened by low functional diversity of invertebrates

Dr Stefano CANNICCI (Associate Director of the Swire Institute of Marine Science and Associate Professor from the Research Division for Ecology & Biodiversity, The University of Hong Kong), along with Professor Joe Shing Yip LEE (Professor and Director, Simon FS Li Marine Science Laboratory, School of Life Sciences, The Chinese University of Hong Kong) and their colleagues compiled a dataset of 209 crustacean and 155 mollusc species from 16 mangrove forests around the world. They found that mangroves, when compared with other ecosystems, are among those with the lowest functional redundancy among resident fauna recorded to date, which suggests that these coastal vegetations are one of the most precarious ecosystems in the world in the face of the recent anthropogenic changes. Thus, a high functional redundancy is a sort of ‘ecological insurance’ for a given forest, since if one species is lost, another can fulfil its function, ultimately keeping the ecosystem viable.

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