Double whammy

the importance of mangroves as nurseries of coral reef fish has been quantified for the first time in a study published in the journal Nature (Vol 427, No 6974, February 5, 2004). "Beyond showing they (mangroves) are important, we showed they are much more important than assumed,' says Peter Mumby, a marine biologist at the uk-based University of Exeter, who is the lead author of the study. Mumby along with scientists from Canada, Mexico, the uk and the us compared fish communities of three reef systems in Belize having practically no mangrove cover with those of three mangrove-rich systems. More than one lakh fish belonging to 164 species were surveyed.

The researchers found that fish species were more abundant in reefs near mangrove forests. For instance, bluestriped grunt (Haemulon sciurus) was 25 times more abundant (measured in biomass