The Mangrove Swamp
Mankind and shores – Area 9 : the mangrove swamp
Mangrove swamps develop along protected coasts in tropical and subtropical zones in particular. They are ecosystems which are home to a very rich diversity of fauna, but their flora is not very diverse as the conditions in them are tough for plants: the water is warm and salty, roots are submerged, the ground is unsteady with little oxygen due to the mud, and so on.
Mangrove swamps are made up of mangroves, very strong trees which are particularly well adapted to their environment, with long roots that go down into the mud and provide small creatures with an excellent form of shelter. Thousands of species lay their eggs there. Once they have reached adulthood, these creatures leave the mangrove swamp and head for reefs or the open sea.
Due to global warming, rising water levels, deforestation, pollution and urban and tourism development, mangrove swamps are now endangered! It is vital to conserve them, because they act as a stabilising force along some coasts which are already fragile. It is thanks to them that surrounding ecosystems start to function and develop normally again after major disturbances (such as hurricanes, tsunamis or abnormal rises in ocean levels).
The animals of the exposition
Mangroves are tropical trees which grow along marine shores. They can easily cope with rises in the level of salty water, and some species of mangrove have roots shaped like stilts or candles. Mangroves also act as an ideal form of shelter for fauna and protect fragile coastlines from the sea, especially during storms. Due to the decline of mangrove swamps, some species of mangrove are endangered.
Despite its name, the colour of the green iguana ranges from green to orangey depending on the region. It can grow to a length of 2.5 metres, including its tail, in the wild. In captivity, it is difficult for it to reach 1.5 metres. This creature, which lives in South and Central America, spends over 90% of its inactive time up in trees, where it finds its main source of food: leaves. The green iguana can change its body temperature in order to capture heat from the sun. It then changes colour, or even its heart rate if necessary.
MADAGASCAR DAY GECKO
The Madagascar day gecko is a small lizard less than 30 cm long which lives in tropical forests and plantations, but it can also be found climbing on the walls of houses in Madagascar.
It feeds on small lizards, insects, fruit and pollen, and can easily become aggressive. Walking vertically is no problem for it, thanks to the adhesive lamellae under its feet.