Tuesday, June 8, 2021

Rat Free After Many Years.

Environmental & Science Education, STEM, Biodiversity, Nature, Wildlife

Ed Hessler

There is a short article in Scientific American on results from the "de-ratting" of Hawadax Island (formerly aka "Rat Island").

Rachel Nuwer who wrote the article for Scientific American describes the chain of events this way. "The voracious rodents colonized Hawadax after a Japanese shipwreck in the 1780s, and they quickly wiped out seabird communities. Kurle's first findings, published in 2008, showed that the rats affected not just birds but the entire food chain—all the way down to algae. Without birds to eat seashore invertebrates, populations of snails, limpets and other herbivorous species exploded and gobbled up much of the marine kelp, which provides crucial habitat for other organisms." Notice the range of impacts on the full length of the food chain, from the obvious to the barely visible.

Carolyn Kurle did her Ph.D. on the remote Aleutian archipelago, known as the "Rat Island Archipelago" in which it is located. Kurle's work led the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to partner with The Nature Conservancy and Island Conservation in rat eradication program. These links amplify the work so nicely summarized in the Nuwer article.  Now eleven years later the marine ecosystem "resembles that of other Aleutian Islands that were never invaded by rats. 

Academic research and conservation: a powerful combination.

No comments:

Post a Comment