seabirds

Short website news article about rat eradication on Chagos Islands in the Indian Ocean and how bird populations increase without rat predation increasing nutrients from bird guano into the coral reefs; cites letter article in Springer Nature - Seabirds enhance coral reef productivity and functioning inthe absence of invasive rats, Nichaolas A.J. Graham, Shaun K. Wilson, Peter Carr, Andrew S. Hoey, Simon Jennings, M. Aaron MacNeil https://doi.org/10.1038/s41586-018-0202-3

The two most fundamental pieces of information necessary to begin developing ecological studies and conservation strategies for reptiles (or any organisms) are identifying the species and knowing what a species does in its natural habitat.

Biotic connectivity between ecosystems can provide major transport of organic matter and nutrients, influencing ecosystem structure and productivity, yet the implications are poorly understood owing to human disruptions of natural flows. When abundant, seabirds feeding in the open ocean transport large quantities of nutrients onto islands, enhancing the productivity of island fauna and flora. Whether leaching of these nutrients back into the sea influences the productivity, structure and functioning of adjacent coral reef ecosystems is not known.

Rats contribute to the decline of tropical seabird populations by affecting their breeding success through direct predation of eggs and chicks. When they coexist with other predators, invasive rats may also generate indirect interactions via the changes they impose on the structure of communities and trophic interactions following invasion (‘hyperpredation process’), or when apex predators are eradicated from the ecosystem (‘mesopredator release effect’). Understanding these effects is necessary to implement restoration operations that actually benefit threatened seabird populations.

Introduced rats (Rattus spp.) can affect island vegetation structure and ecosystem functioning, both directly and indirectly (through the reduction of seabird populations). The extent to which structure and function of islands where rats have been eradicated will converge on uninvaded islands remains unclear. We compared three groups of islands in New Zealand: islands never invaded by rats, islands with rats, and islands on which rats have been controlled. Differences between island groups in soil and leaf chemistry and leaf production were largely explained by burrow densities.