Sunday, August 17, 2008

Shaking The Trees

The story of the brown tree snake's (Boiga irregularis) decimation of the birds of Guam has been well documented in invasive species literature (and here at the ISW as well). But now, word comes from The Washington Post that the impact of the introduced snakes is being felt much farther down the food chain. A graduate student at the University of Washington has done research indicating that the typical distribution of trees with bird-dispersed fruits has been thrown completely out of whack (instead of being spread out across the island, new trees grow right around the parent plant) across Guam, because, as you can guess, nothing is around to disperse the fruits. This is sure to have implications for the population biology of the plant species being impacted, and could threaten the longevity of certain species by causing an increase in inbreeding. More details about the research are available in this article from UW News.

Thanks to Julie A. for sending in a link to this story.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I am grimly amazed at the ripple effects that invasives have on extant systems. It just never ends.

I heard a very illuminating story on the radio a couple of days ago; whereas Australia has given Florida plenty of invasives to fret over, Florida has returned the favor. Apparently AUS is having issues with prickly-pear cacti and pond apples, at least. There's probably more.

Serves 'em right for giving us melaleuca and Australian pines.