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Rhizophora-dominated mangroves

Short description

Mangrove forest dominated by Rhizophora spp.

Disclaimer: Ecosystem type descriptions are based on biophysical attributes identified in Central Queensland through expert advice and supported by scientific literature. Not all ecosystem types are mapped based on current inventory, and many of the ecosystems described here may also occur in other parts of Queensland.

Rhizophora tree. Photo by Natalie Kastner, QPWS

Classification categories

Select from the links below to view related ecosystem type categories

Long description

Mangrove forest dominated by Rhizophora spp., (mostly Rhizophora stylosa), typically on the seaward margin of mangrove communities. Occurs on Quaternary estuarine deposits, on intertidal flats which are often dissected by tidal streams. Soils are usually deep saline clays[12]. Typically forms large closed forests that extend form the seaward edge in muddier areas with more stable sediments. These seaward forests are inundated on every high tide[1]. Several species from the genus Rhizophora have been recorded in Queensland, including hybrids[8][12].

Mangroves are not a taxonomically unified group, but rather an ecological group that arose through convergent evolution and includes several different families. They are characterised by trees that are adapted to tolerate tidal inundation. Rhizophora spp. dominated mangroves are recognisable by their prop roots or stilts which stabilise them in the mud.

Special values

Mangrove communities provide a wide variety of services, including:

  • physical coastal protection from erosion and flooding
  • sediment trapping
  • primary production
  • nutrient uptake
  • food, shelter and breeding areas for a wide range of fauna including birds, water mouse(Xeromys myoides) (landward margin), fish, crustaceans and other invertebrates.[8][2][13][6]

The prop roots and frequent tidal inundation of Rhizophora forests provide particularly good nursery habitat for fish, crustaceans and molluscs, many of recreational and commercial importance. Fiddler crabs (Uca coarctata and Uca dussumieri) and molluscs (e.g. whelks) can be particularly abundant in Rhizophora forests. Dense growth of the red algae Catenella nipae on mangrove prop roots provides food for recreationally important herbivorous fishes.[3] The interface of mangroves and an estuary often provide the best nursery habitat in association with the high abundance of snags and/or prop roots[10].

Diagnostic attributes

Inundation 'Intertidal – Lower low', 'Intertidal – Mid low', 'Intertidal – Upper low', 'Intertidal – Low undifferentiated', 'Intertidal – Lower medium', 'Intertidal – Upper-medium', 'Intertidal – Medium undifferentiated', 'Intertidal – High', 'Intertidal – Undifferentiated', 'Intertidal – High undifferentiated' although mangroves usually occur at mean sea level and above

Structural macrobiota 'Mangroves – Rhizophora'


No qualifiers mapped however Period and Trend are relevant as Rhizophora forests typically extend from the seaward boundary and can be influenced by sea level rise.

Relevant attributes associated with change (e.g. mangrove dieback) in Moreton Bay include Freshwater source, Freshwater volume and Trace elements/nutrients.

Relevant attributes associated with change for Gulf of Carpentaria include Inundation (sea level changes associated with extreme weather events)[5][9].


The north-east coast of Australia was close to the centre of mangrove origin and dispersal. The climate is similar to that under which they first evolved, and the sheltered shallow waters of numerous estuaries are ideal for growth[11][7]. Rhizophora spp. (mostly R. stylosa) grows throughout the Indo-Pacific and is found across northern Australia from the Richmond River in New South Wales to Shark Bay in Western Australia[4].

The following relates to distribution of this ecosystem type within the Central Queensland mapping area:

  • Closed Rhizophora forests are the most extensive mangrove forests from Tin Can Inlet to Round Hill Head, followed by (in decreasing extent) closed forests of Avicennia marina, Avicennia/Ceriops spp., Ceriops spp., Aegiceras corniculatum, open Avicennia marina, open Avicennia/Ceriops spp., closed Rhizophora/Aegiceras spp., closed mixed, closed Rhizophora/Avicennia spp., open Bruguiera spp., open Ceriops spp.. Rhizophora forests grow within the Great Sandy Strait (along the Fraser Island north-west coast, and in Kauri Creek and Tin Can Inlet). Closed Rhizophora forest grows along the seaward margin with closed Avicennia/Ceriops forests growing landward[1].
  • Closed Rhizophora forests are also the most extensive mangrove forests in Port Curtis, followed by (in decreasing extent) closed forests of Avicennia/Ceriops spp., mixed mangroves, Rhizophora/Avicennia spp., Ceriops spp., Avicennia marina, Aegiceras corniculatum, open Avicennia marina, closed Aegiceras/Rhizophora spp., open Ceriops spp., closed Aegiceras/Avicennia spp. and other minor types (less than 20 hectares)[2].


Other relevant attributes include Consolidation, Energy and Sediment texture as mangroves typically occur on unconsolidated muds and fine sediments in low energy environments.

Additional Information

Moreton Bay mangroves and associated communities interactive map viewer - WetlandInfo

Mangroves - WetlandInfo

Mangroves - Queensland Government

Common mangroves - Department of Agriculture and Fisheries


Mangrove Challenge

Mangrove community dynamics - OzCoasts

Mangroves and associated communities of Moreton Bay - WetlandInfo

Serious Dieback of Mangroves around Mackay - University of Queensland


  1. ^ a b Bruinsma, C & Danaher, K (2001), Queensland Coastal Wetland Resources: Round Hill Head to Tin Can Inlet.. [online], vol. QI99081, Department of Primary Industries, Queensland Government., Brisbane. Available at:
  2. ^ a b Danaher, K, Rasheed, M & Thomas, R (2005), The intertidal wetlands of Port Curtis, Department of Primary Industries and Fisheries.
  3. ^ Davis, J, Pitt, K, Fry, B, Olds, A & Connolly, R (2014a), 'Seascape-scale trophic links for fish on inshore coral reefs', Coral Reefs. [online], vol. 33, no. 4, pp. 897-907. Available at:
  4. ^ Department of Agriculture and Fisheries (2013), Red mangrove. [online] Available at:
  5. ^ Duke, N & Oosterzee, P (2017), Extreme weather likely behind worst recorded mangrove dieback in northern Australia. [online] Available at:
  6. ^ Duke, NC (2006), Australia's mangroves. The authoritative guide to Australia's mangrove plants, University of Queensland, Brisbane.
  7. ^ Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority (GBRMPA) (2007), Great Barrier Reef (GBR) Features (Reef boundaries, QLD Mainland, Islands, Cays, Rocks and Dry Reefs) (GBRMPA) (metadata), eAtlas Data Catalogue AIMS, Townsville.
  8. ^ a b Lovelock, C (1993), Field guide to the mangroves of Queensland, AIMS.
  9. ^ Lovelock, CE, Feller, IC, Reef, R, Hickey, S & Ball, MC (December 2017), 'Mangrove dieback during fluctuating sea levels', Scientific Reports. [online], vol. 7, no. 1, p. 1680. Available at: [Accessed 30 May 2019].
  10. ^ Marcus Sheaves (January 1992), 'Patterns of distribution and abundance of fishes in different habitats of a mangrove-lined tropical estuary, as determined by fish trapping', Marine and Freshwater Research. [online], vol. 43, no. 6. Available at:
  11. ^ Queensland Government (2019), Mangroves - WetlandInfo. [online] Available at:
  12. ^ a b Queensland Herbarium & Environmental Protection Agency, B (2005), Regional Ecosystem Description Database (REDD). Version 5.0. [online], Environmental Protection Agency, Brisbane. Available at:
  13. ^ Sheaves, M (2005), 'Nature and consequences of biological connectivity in mangrove systems', Marine Ecology Progress Series. [online], vol. 302, pp. 293-305. Available at: [Accessed 15 March 2019].

Last updated: 19 July 2019

This page should be cited as:

Department of Environment, Science and Innovation, Queensland (2019) Rhizophora-dominated mangroves, WetlandInfo website, accessed 18 March 2024. Available at:

Queensland Government
WetlandInfo   —   Department of Environment, Science and Innovation