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Rats devastate bird populations on tropical islands, with the knock on effect of damaging nearby coral reefs, a new study suggests.
It has long been known that rats lay waste to bird colonies on islands, by eating their eggs and young.
Experts - Islands - Ocean - Times - Birds
Experts found that found rat-free islands in the Indian Ocean had up to 760 times more birds than those where rats run free.
This positive effect spilled over into the sea – with nearly 50 per cent more fish living near islands fertilised by seabirds than those infested with rats.
Turn - Health - Reefs - Algae - Seaweed
This in turn boosts the health of reefs, with more algae, seaweed and fish able to flourish thanks to the natural fertiliser provided by the bird's droppings.
Seabirds that feed in the open ocean transport large quantities of nutrients onto nearby islands in the form of guano, or droppings.
Scientists - Boost - Guano - Fertiliser - Ocean
Scientists found fish get the boost because the guano acts as a natural fertiliser which enriches the ocean and encourages seaweed and algae to grow, which in turn promotes fish life.
Professor Nick Graham of Lancaster University and colleagues studied the northern atolls of the Chagos Archipelago in the Indian Ocean.
Islands - Humans
These islands are currently uninhabited by humans.
Rats were introduced...
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