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Mangroves are important breeding and feeding habitats for both terrestrial and marine fauna. The mangrove tree trunks, aerial roots, and sediment provide suitable microhabitats for colonization of certain wildlife. Above the ground, the trees and canopy provide a habitat for insects, reptiles, birds and mammals. Mangrove trunks and roots hanging in water along creeks and inlets are home to a variety of barnacles, bivalves and snails. The soft sediment in the mangrove forest is the habitat for crabs and many other invertebrates. The burrowing activities of these invertebrates have a pronounced effect on sediment properties and biochemical processes. They enhance the porosity of water flow through the sediment and assist in flushing away toxic substances. The feeding activity of invertebrates on the sediment surface and plant matter promotes nutrient cycling. These small animals are a source of food for vertebrates, such as reptiles, birds, otters, and shallow water fish that come into the mangrove shore at high tide. Crabs and gastropods are the major seed predators in mangrove forests and play an important role in determining the plant community structure. The marine life, especially juvenile fish, prawns and crabs are highly abundant in the mangroves because of the availability of phyto- and zooplankton which are the primary food chain in the marine ecosystem. The marine life provides an important food source for humans, and economically alleviates the livelihood of the coastal local communities. The mangroves in Sabah have their own unique and specialized fauna that are adapted to the harsh mangrove environment. For example, the Bornean endemic Proboscis Monkey is common in the mangroves and it is one of the eye-catching attractions for tourists. The amphibious mudskippers, colourful fiddler crabs, water birds and kingfishers are equally mesmerizing. Highlighted in this part of the book are some of the common wildlife found within the mangroves of Sabah but they may not be exclusive to such habitat. Some may be merely trespassing or foraging for food. At the same time, not all animals are featured. The lesser known mangrove-associated invertebrates, such as sponges, plankton, worms and jellyfish are not emphasized. For easy classification purposes, the mangrove fauna featured here is divided into invertebrates and vertebrates.
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