Rhizophora mangle 

Scope: Global
Language: English

Translate page into:

Taxonomy [top]

Kingdom Phylum Class Order Family
Plantae Tracheophyta Magnoliopsida Rhizophorales Rhizophoraceae

Scientific Name: Rhizophora mangle
Species Authority: L.
Common Name(s):
English Red Mangrove, American Mangrove
Spanish Mangle Colorado
Taxonomic Notes: This species' eastern Pacific distribution is now known as R. samoensis.

Assessment Information [top]

Red List Category & Criteria: Least Concern ver 3.1
Year Published: 2015
Date Assessed: 2007-03-24
Assessor(s): Ellison, A., Farnsworth, E. & Moore, G.
Reviewer(s): Polidoro, B., Livingstone, S. & Carpenter, K.E.
Rhizophora mangle is common in many parts of its range. It is threatened by habitat conversion, pollution, and hurricanes which have resulted in declines throughout the wider Caribbean region. While co-occurring with other species of mangrove and subject to many of the same natural and anthropogenic threats, R. mangle remains the dominant species within its range. However, given that mangrove habitats are in decline globally, and there has been an estimated 17% decline in mangrove areas within its range since 1980, it is important to monitor the future status of this critical mangrove species.This species is listed as Least Concern.
Previously published Red List assessments:

Geographic Range [top]

Range Description:This species is native along the Atlantic coast from Florida to southern Brazil, and from western Africa from Senegal to Angola (Howard 1989). Freezing sets the northern limit of mangrove forests (Stuart et al. 2007), which was recently defined for R. mangle at 29°42'94" N, 81°14'35" W in the continental United States (Zomlefer et al. 2006). However, Bermuda is the most northerly extent of its range (Thomas 1993, Smith 1998).

Presence on the mid-Atlantic islands (St. Helena and Ascension) has been reported for this species, but this is not confirmed.

The species has been introduced to Queensland (Australia) and Hawaii (USA).
Countries occurrence:
Angola (Angola); Anguilla; Antigua and Barbuda; Bahamas; Barbados; Belize; Benin; Bermuda; Bonaire, Sint Eustatius and Saba (Saba, Sint Eustatius); Brazil; Cameroon; Cayman Islands; Colombia; Congo; Congo, The Democratic Republic of the; Costa Rica; Côte d'Ivoire; Cuba; Curaçao; Dominica; Dominican Republic; Equatorial Guinea; France; French Guiana; Gabon; Gambia; Ghana; Grenada; Guadeloupe; Guinea; Guinea-Bissau; Guyana; Haiti; Honduras; Jamaica; Liberia; Mexico; Montserrat; Nicaragua; Nigeria; Panama; Puerto Rico; Saint Kitts and Nevis; Saint Lucia; Saint Martin (French part); Saint Vincent and the Grenadines; Sao Tomé and Principe; Senegal; Sierra Leone; Sint Maarten (Dutch part); Suriname; Togo; Trinidad and Tobago; Turks and Caicos Islands; United States (Florida, Georgia, Hawaiian Is. - Introduced, Louisiana, North Carolina, South Carolina, Texas); United States Minor Outlying Islands; Venezuela, Bolivarian Republic of; Virgin Islands, British
Australia (Queensland)
FAO Marine Fishing Areas:
Atlantic – western central; Atlantic – southwest; Atlantic – southeast; Atlantic – eastern central; Pacific – eastern central
Additional data:
Range Map:Click here to open the map viewer and explore range.

Population [top]

Population:This species can be common in at least some parts of its range. In Belize for example, it is the most common species, particularly in basin environments along river banks and the coast (Murray et al. 2003). It is expanding its range in northern Florida and is characterized as invasive on two Pacific islands.

Specific population information exists for this species in the following areas:

At the mouthouth of Lostman's River in Everglades National Park, FL, U.S., 611 individuals were counted over six transects totaling 0.26 ha (McCoy et al. 1996).

In Laguna de Celestun, Yucatan, Mexico, combined data for A. germinans, R. mangle and L. racemosa show basal area ranges from 21 square meters/ha to 36 square meters/ha (Herrera-Silveira and Ramirez-Ramirez 1998).

In Parque Nacional Morrocoy, Venezuela, data show 68% R. mangle, 29% L. racemosa, 8% A. germinans, 1% unidentified total tree density, and 348 trees/0.1 ha (Bone et al. 1998).
Current Population Trend:Decreasing
Additional data:
Population severely fragmented:No

Habitat and Ecology [top]

Habitat and Ecology:This species typically grows in the intertidal regions of sheltered tropical and subtropical coasts (Saenger 2002). It typically dominates the zone proximal to open water (McKee 1995). It grows as a shrub to small tree from 1-8 m in the Caribbean (Howard 1989) and can be reproductively mature at <1 m (Tomlinson 1986). This species is typically found from 20-35 psu. However, it can occur in brackish estuarine systems as well as in hypersaline conditions (50+ psu) where the growth form is commonly dwarf (1-2 m).

In Port Royal (17°56'N, 76°79'W), R. mangle grows in a dense monospecific stands, bordering all wetland water bodies. It is also present in a mixed zone between the R. mangle monospecific stands and monospecific stands of C. erectus, which is the border between the wetland and terrestrial zones (Alleng 1998).

Flowering occurs annually in mid-winter and spring within the wider Caribbean. Propagule size can be variable, shown to be larger in areas of higher rainfall (Tyagi 2003). Production of viviparous propagules is abundant and maintained on the parent tree for 3-6 months. Once dropped, propagules can subsist for extended periods afloat prior to rooting. Successful growth requires a canopy break or transport to open area to grow to maturity.

Fringing R. mangle (in association with seagrass beds) provide critical for Caribbean parotfish (Scarus guacamaia), a species listed as vulnerable on the Red Data List. This species is also associated with stabilization of sandy beaches critical for sea turtle nesting habitat, among countless other critical habitat functions.
Systems:Terrestrial; Marine

Use and Trade [top]

Use and Trade: This species has limited direct economic value, but with continued pharmaceutical development, this may change. It is also probably extracted for subsistence fuelwood, charcoal and dyes.

Threats [top]

Major Threat(s): Disease and herbivory can impact R. mangle (Farnsworth and Ellison 1991, Brooks and Bell 2002, Sousa et al. 2003) but are not likely to pose a serious conservation threat at this time. Also decreases in R. mangle have been documented due to land reclamation and clear cutting for marina development (Ellison and Farnsworth 1996, Farnsworth and Ellison 1997, Moore 2006). Although local estimates are uncertain due to differing legislative definitions of what is a 'mangrove' and to the imprecision in determining mangrove area, current consensus estimates of mangrove loss in the last quarter-century report an approximately 17% decline in mangrove areas in countries within this species range since 1980 (FAO 2007).

All mangrove ecosystems occur within mean sea level and high tidal elevations, and have distinct species zonations that are controlled by the elevation of the substrate relative to mean sea level. This is because of associated variation in frequency of elevation, salinity and wave action (Duke et al. 1998). With rise in sea-level, the habitat requirements of each species will be disrupted, and species zones will suffer mortality at their present locations and re-establish at higher elevations in areas that were previously landward zones (Ellison 2005). If sea-level rise is a continued trend over this century, then there will be continued mortality and re-establishment of species zones. However, species that are easily dispersed and fast growing/fast producing will cope better than those which are slower growing and slower to reproduce.

In addition, mangrove area is declining globally due to a number of localized threats. The main threat is habitat destruction and removal of mangrove areas. Reasons for removal include cleared for shrimp farms, agriculture, fish ponds, rice production and salt pans, and for the development of urban and industrial areas, road construction, coconut plantations, ports, airports, and tourist resorts. Other threats include pollution from sewage effluents, solid wastes, siltation, oil, and agricultural and urban runoff. Climate change is also thought to be a threat, particularly at the edges of a species range. Natural threats include cyclones, hurricane and tsunamis.

Conservation Actions [top]

Conservation Actions: There are no conservation measures specific to this species, but its range may include some marine and coastal protected areas. Continued monitoring and research is recommended, as well as the inclusion of mangrove areas in marine and coastal protected areas.

Classifications [top]

12. Marine Intertidal -> 12.7. Marine Intertidal - Mangrove Submerged Roots
suitability:Suitable  major importance:Yes
1. Land/water protection -> 1.1. Site/area protection

In-Place Research, Monitoring and Planning
In-Place Land/Water Protection and Management
  Conservation sites identified:Yes, over entire range
In-Place Species Management
In-Place Education
1. Residential & commercial development -> 1.1. Housing & urban areas
♦ timing:Ongoing    
→ Stresses
  • 1. Ecosystem stresses -> 1.1. Ecosystem conversion
  • 1. Ecosystem stresses -> 1.2. Ecosystem degradation

11. Climate change & severe weather -> 11.1. Habitat shifting & alteration
♦ timing:Ongoing    
→ Stresses
  • 1. Ecosystem stresses -> 1.1. Ecosystem conversion
  • 2. Species Stresses -> 2.2. Species disturbance

2. Agriculture & aquaculture -> 2.1. Annual & perennial non-timber crops -> 2.1.3. Agro-industry farming
♦ timing:Ongoing    
→ Stresses
  • 1. Ecosystem stresses -> 1.1. Ecosystem conversion
  • 1. Ecosystem stresses -> 1.2. Ecosystem degradation

2. Agriculture & aquaculture -> 2.4. Marine & freshwater aquaculture -> 2.4.3. Scale Unknown/Unrecorded
♦ timing:Ongoing    
→ Stresses
  • 1. Ecosystem stresses -> 1.1. Ecosystem conversion
  • 1. Ecosystem stresses -> 1.2. Ecosystem degradation

5. Biological resource use -> 5.3. Logging & wood harvesting -> 5.3.5. Motivation Unknown/Unrecorded
♦ timing:Ongoing    
→ Stresses
  • 1. Ecosystem stresses -> 1.2. Ecosystem degradation

3. Monitoring -> 3.1. Population trends

♦  Medicine - human & veterinary
 Local : ✓ 

♦  Manufacturing chemicals
 Local : ✓ 

♦  Fuels
 Local : ✓ 

♦  Construction or structural materials
 Local : ✓ 

Bibliography [top]

Alleng, G.P. 1998. Historical development of the Port Royal mangrove wetlands, Jamaica. Journal of Coastal Research 14(3): 951-959.

Baldwin, A.H., Platt, W.J., Gathen, K.L., Lessmann, J.M. and Rauch, T.J. 1995. Hurricane damage and regeneration in fringe mangrove forests of southeast Florida, USA. Journal of Coastal Research 21(Special Issue): 169-183.

Bone, D., Perez, D., Villamizar, A., Penchaszadeh, P.E. and Klein, E. 1998. Parque Nacional Morrocoy, Venezuela. In: B. Kjerfve (ed.), CARICOMP - Caribbean coral reef, seagrass and mangrove sites. UNESCO, Paris.

Brooks, R.A. and Bell, S.S. 2002. Mangrove response to attack by a root boring isopod: root repair versus architectural modification. Marine Ecology Progress Series 231: 85-90.

Calderon-Saenz, E. 1984. Occurrence of the mangrove, Pelliciera rhizophorae, on the Caribbean coast of Colombia with biogeographical notes. Bulletin of Marine Science 35(1): 105-110.

Chen, R. and Twilley, R.R. 1999. Patterns of mangrove forest structure and soil nutrient dynamics along the Shark River Estuary, Florida. Estuaries 22(4): 955-970.

Chimner, R. A., Fry, B., Kaneshiro, M.Y. and Cormier, N. 2006. Current extent and historical expansion of introduced mangroves on O'ahu, Hawai'I. Pacific Science 60(3): 377-383.

Cohen, M.C.L. and Lara, R.J. 2003. Temporal changes of mangrove vegetation boundaries in Amazonia: Applications of GIS and remote sensing techniques. Wetlands Ecology and Management 11: 223-231.

Corcoran, E., Ravilious, C. and Skuja, M. 2007. Mangroves of Western and Central Africa. UNEP-Regional Seas Programme/UNEP-WCMC, Cambridge, UK.

Cornejo, R.H., Koedam, N., Ruiz Luna, A., Troell, M. and Dahdouh-Guebas, F. 2005. Remote sensing and ethnobotanical assessment of the mangrove forest changes in the Navachiste-San Ignacio-Macapule Lagoon Complex, Sinoloa, Mexico. Ecology and Society 10(1).

Dawes, C., Siar, K. and Marlett, D. 1999. Mangrove structure, litter and macroalgal productivity in a northern-most forest of Florida. Mangroves and Salt Marshes 3: 259-267.

De Meyer, K. 1998. Bonaire, Netherlands Antilles. In: B. Kjerfve (ed.), CARICOMP - Caribbean coral reef, seagrass, and mangrove sites, pp. 141-149. UNESCO, Paris.

Dorenbosch, M., Grol, M.G.G., Nagelkerken, I. and van der Velde, G. 2006. Seagrass beds and mangroves as potential nurseries for the threatened Indo-Pacific humphead wrasse and Caribbean rainbow parrotfish. Biological Conservation 129(2): 277-282.

Duke, N.C., Ball, M.C. and Ellison, J.C. 1998. Factors influencing biodiversity and distributional gradients in mangroves. Global Ecology and Biogeography Letters 7: 27-47.

Duke, N.C., Pinzon, Z.S. and Prada, M.C.T. 1997. Large-scale damage to mangrove forests following two large oil spills in Panama. Biotropica 29(1): 2-14.

Ellison, A.M. and Farnsworth, E.J. 1996. Anthropogenic Disturbance of Caribbean Mangrove Ecosystems: Past Impacts, Present Trends, and Future Predictions. Biotropica 28(4): 549-565.

Ellison, A.M. and Farnsworth, E.J. 1997. Simulated sea level change alters anatomy, physiology, growth and reproduction of red mangrove (Rhizophora mangle L.). Oecologia 112: 435-446.

Ellison, J.C. 2005. Holocene palynology and sea-level change in two estuaries in Southern Irian Jaya. Palaeogeography, Palaeoclimatology, Palaeoecology 220: 291-309.

FAO. 2007. The World's Mangroves 1980-2005. FAO Forestry Paper 153. Forestry Department, Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO), Rome.

Garzon-Ferreira, J. 1998. Bahia de Chengue, Parque Natural Tayrona, Colombia. In: B. Kjerfve (ed.), CARICOMP - Caribbean coral reef, seagrass and mangrove sites, pp. 115-125. UNESCO, Paris.

Gayle, P.M.H. and Woodley, J.D. 1998. Discovery Bay, Jamaica. In: B. Kjerfve (ed.), CARICOMP - Caribbean coral reef, seagrass, and mangrove sites, pp. 17-33. UNESCO, Paris.

Halpern, B.S. 2004. Are mangroves a limiting resource for two coral reef fishes? Marine Ecology Progress Series 272: 93-98.

Herrera-Silveira, J.A. and Ramirez-Ramirez, J. 1998. Laguna de Celestun, Yucatan, Mexico. In: Kjerfve, B. (ed.), CARICOMP - Caribbean Coral reef, seagrass and mangrove sites, pp. 43-55. UNESCO, Paris.

Imbert, D., Rousteau, A. and Scherrer, P. 2000. Ecology of mangrove growth and recovery in the Lesser Antilles: State of knowledge and basis for restoration. Restoration Ecology 8(3): 230-236.

IUCN. 2015. The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Version 2015.1. Available at: (Accessed: 28 May 2015).

Lacerda, L.D. 2002. Mangrove Ecosystems: Function and Management. Springer-Verlag, Berlin, Germany.

Layman, C., Moore, G., et al. 2006. Grenada and Grenadines Wetland Assessment: Preliminary findings. Prepared for The Nature Conservancy, Eastern Caribbean Programme.

McCoy, E.D., Mushinsky, H.R., Johnson, D. and Meshaka, W.E. 1996. Mangrove damage cause by Hurricane Andrew on the southwestern coast of Florida. Bulletin of Marine Science 59: 1-8.

McKee, K.L. 1995. Mangrove species distribution and propagule predation in Belize: An exception to the dominance-predation hypothesis. Biotropica 27(3): 334-345.

Mumby, P.J. 2006. Connectivity of reef fish between mangrove and coral reefs: Algorithms for the design of marine reserves at seascape scales. Biological Conservation 128: 215-222.

Murray, M.R., Zisman, S.A., Furley, P.A., Munro, D.M., Gibson, J., Ratter, J., Bridgewater, S., Minty, C.D., and C.J. Place. 2003. The mangroves of Belize. Part 1. distribution, composition and classification. Forest Ecology and Management 174: 265-279.

Nagelkerken, I. and van der Velde, G. 2004 a. Are Caribbean mangroves important feeding grounds for juvenile reef fish from adjacent seagrass beds? Marine Ecology Progress Series 274: 143-151.

Nagelkerken, I. and van der Velde, G. 2004 b. Relative importance of interlinked mangrove and seagrass beds as feeding habitats for juvenile reef fish on a Caribbean island. Marine Ecology Progress Series 274: 153-159.

Nunez-Farfan, J., Dominguez, C.A., Eguiarte, L.E., Cornejo, A., Quijano, M. Vargas, J. and Dirzo, R. 2002. Genetic divergence among Mexican populations of red mangrove (Rhizophora mangle): Geographic and historic effects. Evolutionary Ecology Research 4(7): 1049-1064.

Proffit, C.E. and Devlin, D.J. 2005. Long-term growth and succession in restored and natural mangrove forests in southwestern Florida. Wetlands Ecology and Management 13: 531-551.

Ross, M.S., Ruiz, P.L., Sah, J.P., Reed, D.L., Walters, J. and Meeder, J.F. 2006. Early post-hurricane stand development in fringe mangrove forests of contrasting productivity. Plant Ecology 185: 283-297.

Saenger, P. 2002. Mangrove ecology, silviculture and conservation. Kluwer Academic Publishers, Dordrecht.

Saenger, P. and Bellan, M.F. 1995. The Mangrove Vegetation of the Atlantic coast of Africa. A review. Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique, Université de Toulouse, Toulouse, France.

Sherman, R.E., Fahey, T.J. and Battles, J.J. 2000. Small-scale sisturbance and regeneration dynamics in a neotropical mangrove forest. The Journal of Ecology 88(1): 165-178.

Smith, G.M., Spencer, T., Murray, A.L. and French, J.R. 1998. Assessing seasonal vegetation change in coastal wetlands with airborne remote sensing: an outline methodology. Mangroves and Salt Marshes 2: 15-28.

Sousa, W.P., Quek, S.P. and Mitchell, B.J. 2003. Regeneration of Rhizophora mangle in a Caribbean mangrove forest: interacting effects of canopy disturbance and a stem-boring beetle. Oecologia 137: 436-445.

Stuart, S.A., Choat, B., Martin, K.C., Holbrook, N.M. and Ball, M.C. 2007. The role of freezing in setting the latitudinal limits of mangrove forests. New Phytologist 173: 576-583.

Thomas, M.L.H. 1993. Mangrove swamps in Bermuda. Atoll Research Bulletin 386: 1-17.

Tomlinson, P.B. 1986. The Botany of Mangroves. Cambridge University Press, New York.

Tyagi, A.P. 2003. Location and interseasonal variation in flowering, propagule setting and propagule size in mangrove species of the family Rhizophoraceae. Wetlands Ecology and Management 11: 167-174.

Varela, R., Llano, M., Capelo, J.C. and Velasquez, Y. 1998. Punta de Mangle, Isla de Margarita, Venezuela. In: B. Kjerfve (ed.), CARICOMP - Caribbean coral reef, seagrass and mangrove sites, pp. 161-170. UNESCO, Paris.

Wilkie, M.L. and Fortuna, S. 2003. Status and trends in mangrove area extent wordwide. FAO Working Paper FRA 63. FAO, Rome, Italy.

Zomlefer, W.B., Judd, W.S. and Giannasi, D.E. 2006. Northernmost limit of Rhizophora mangle (red mangrove; Rhizophoraceae) in St. Johns County, Florida. Castanea 71(3): 239-244.

Citation: Ellison, A., Farnsworth, E. & Moore, G. 2015. Rhizophora mangle. The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species 2015: e.T178851A69024847. . Downloaded on 18 January 2017.
Disclaimer: To make use of this information, please check the <Terms of Use>.
Feedback: If you see any errors or have any questions or suggestions on what is shown on this page, please provide us with feedback so that we can correct or extend the information provided