Seabird Islands Take Mere Decades to Recover Following Rat Eradication
Jones, Holly P.
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Islands house a majority of the world’s biodiversity and are thus critical for biodiversity conservation. Seabird nesting colonies provide nutrients that are integral to maintain island biodiversity and ecosystem function. Invasive rats destroy seabird colonies and thus the island ecosystems that depend on seabird-derived nutrients. After rat eradication, it is unclear how long ecosystem recovery may take, although some speculate on the order of centuries. I looked at ecosystem recovery along a chronosequence of islands that had 12–22 years to recover following rat eradication. I show that soil, plant, and spider marine-derived nitrogen levels and C:N ratios take mere decades to recover even after centuries-long rat invasion. Moreover, active seabird restoration could speed recovery even further, giving much hope to quickly conserve many endemic species on islands worldwide.