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Direct and indirect effects of rats: does rat eradication restore ecosystem functioning of New Zealand seabird islands?

TitleDirect and indirect effects of rats: does rat eradication restore ecosystem functioning of New Zealand seabird islands?
Publication TypeJournal Article
Year of Publication2008
AuthorsMulder, CPH, M. Grant-Hoffman, N, Towns, DR, Bellingham, PJ, Wardle, DA, Durrett, MS, Fukami, T, Bonner, KI
JournalBiological Invasions
Volumeonline edition
Abstract

Introduced rats (Rattus spp.) can affectisland vegetation structure and ecosystem functioning,both directly and indirectly (through the reduction ofseabird populations). The extent to which structureand function of islands where rats have been eradicatedwill converge on uninvaded islands remainsunclear. We compared three groups of islands inNew Zealand: islands never invaded by rats, islandswith rats, and islands on which rats have beencontrolled. Differences between island groups in soiland leaf chemistry and leaf production were largelyexplained by burrow densities. Community structureof woody seedlings differed by rat history and burrowdensity. Plots on islands with high seabird densities hadthemost non-native plant species. Sincemost impacts ofrats were mediated through seabird density, the removalof rats without seabird recolonization is unlikely toresult in a reversal of these processes. Even if seabirdsreturn, a novel plant community may emerge.

DOI10.1007/s10530-008-9396-x
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