Mangroves muddy 'but can breathe and grow'
Published on 14 July, 2011
Mangroves seem designed to attract mud, yet their breathing roots manage to reach the air and seedling leaves manage to access sunlight to grow...
This happens due to complex ecological relationships between plants and animals in what PhD student Rebecca Griffiths describes as the 'muddy, insect-plagued depths of the mangal'.
Indeed, Rebecca is no stranger to what Rudyard Kipling would describe as the 'great, grey-green greasy banks' of various mangrove areas.
"Marine life has always been a fascination of mine and, from a young age, I nurtured the dream of a career as a marine biologist," she says.
"After school I completed a Bachelor of Science at James Cook University in Townsville, majoring in marine biology and environmental science.
"During these years I found my greatest interests were invertebrate marina fauna, especially inhabitants of benthic intertidal ecosytems."
In 1996, Rebecca married a soldier who was subsequently posted to Rockhampton, so she came to CQUniversity for her honours year.
"With the inspiring Dr Steve McKillup as my supervisor, I studied crab predation as a possible restriction on the upper limits of the distribution of a common mangal mollusc. After completing honours, I spent a number of years working as a laboratory scientist before becoming a full-time mother."
With her children now at school, Rebecca says she is thrilled to return to her scientific career thanks to an Australian Postgraduate Award.
"My PhD will explore how, when mangroves promote sedimentation, the plants themselves so rarely become fouled. The scope includes implications for conservation and reforestation.
"Associate Professor Steve McKillup will once again guide me as my principal supervisor and Dr Bob Newby has kindly agreed to be my associate supervisor."